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The Beginning of Spring

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In March 1913, Frank Reid's wife abruptly leaves him and Moscow for her native England. Naturally, she takes their daughters and son with her. The children, however, only make it as far as the train station - and even after returning home remain unaffected by their brief exile.

"They ought either to be quieter or more noisy than before," their father thinks, "and it was disconcerting that they seemed to be exactly the same." Frank's routines, however, drift into disorder as he tries desperately to take charge of life at home and work. Even his printing plant is suddenly confronted by the specters of modernization and utter instability.

In Penelope Fitzgerald's fiction, affection and remorse are all too often allied, and desire and design seem never to meet. Frank wants little more than a quiet, confident life - something for which he is deeply unsuited, and which Russia certainly will not go out of her way to provide.

'The Beginning of Spring' is filled with echoes of past wrongs and whispers of the revolution to come, even if the author evokes these with abrupt comic brio. (In one disturbance, "A great many shots had hit people for whom they were not intended.")

As ever, Fitzgerald makes us care for - and want to know ever more about - her characters, even the minor players. Her two-page description of Frank's chief type compositor, for instance, is a miracle of precision and humor, sympathy and mystery. And the accountant Selwyn Crane - a Tolstoy devotée, self-published poet, and expert at making others feel guilty -is a sublime creation. His appetite for do-gooding is insatiable.

After one fit of apparent altriusm, "Selwyn subsided. Now that he saw everything was going well, his mind was turning to his next charitable enterprise. With the terrible aimlessness of the benevolent, he was casting round for a new misfortune." As she evokes her household of tears and laughter, Fitzgerald's prose is as witty as ever, rendering the past present and the modern timeless. - Kerry Fried

188 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

Penelope Fitzgerald

43 books647 followers
Penelope Fitzgerald was an English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, The Blue Flower, as one of "the ten best historical novels".

Fitzgerald was the author of nine novels. Her novel Offshore was the winner of the Booker Prize. A further three novels — The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels — also made the shortlist.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford university, from which she graduated in 1938 with a congratulatory First.

She was the granddaughter of Edward Lee Hicks

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 363 reviews
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,647 followers
May 17, 2019
In the 1870’s, Frank Reid’s parents move to Russia and his father sets up a print shop and a warehouse business in Moscow, Russia.

All that had really been needed, when he started out in the 1870’s, was a certificate to say the the articles of association of your company were in accordance with British law and another form in St Petersburg to say that your enterprise was advantageous to the interests of the Russian Empire.

One also needed a good head for bribes. These bribes, too, must be called gifts, and with that word you began your study of the Russian language.

Frank is born in Russia and his early education takes place there. Later, he studies in both Germany and England, where he meets his wife. They spend a couple of years in Germany while Frank hones his business skills, but upon his father’s death, followed quickly by his mother’s death, Frank takes over the business in Moscow. Their youngest child, born when Dolly is 8 and Ben is 7, is named Annie, or Annushka as she is called in her Russian homeland.

Two and three-quarter years later, Frank’s wife Nellie leaves one day and he comes home to a house with servants but no children. No wife. Shortly after, he receives a call from the stationmaster who says that his three children are there waiting for him to arrive. This is where the main story begins.

“The Beginning of Spring” is another of those novels that can be read on the surface and enjoyed as a simple story. Personally, I think this would be difficult to do because for me, the undercurrents and depths in this deceptively straight-forward story held me in suspenseful anticipation. At times, I felt so much discomfort that I wasn’t sure I even liked it. At other times, I felt like Frank’s brother-in-law, Charlie, who pays a visit for a week and is in thrall with everything he sees, tastes, smells, and experiences.

Either way – or both ways – it is obvious that Penelope Fitzgerald not only researched Moscow and its surrounding areas thoroughly, but she must also have spoken at length with the denizens and/or people who were close to others who had lived there and had many stories to tell. This feels like and reads like a first-hand experience of turn-of-the-21st Century Russia. There is nothing foggy or nebulous in Ms Fitzgerald’s writing. It is straightforward and compact. She says a great deal in very few words.

Take for example the conversation Frank has with his children about their Uncle Charlie. Dolly figures he may as well go home to England because he didn’t bring any information with him about her mother. Frank asks her if she doesn’t care anything for her Uncle. Annushka, born to take life in the way easiest to herself and to extract from any situation only the aspect which did her most credit, shouted, “I love my Uncle Charlie!” I couldn’t help myself – I just had to laugh. And then, I had to marvel. I could see in that one sentence how Penelope Fitzgerald had captured the essence of a much younger sibling vying for her father’s approval in the only way she could.

This novel has many such moments, and it drew me in completely. Although it was only my first reading experience of Penelope Fitzgerald’s work, I will definitely be reading more of her writing as soon as I can.
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
792 reviews
January 20, 2022
I had a dream the other night. I was in a birch forest in Russia and I was searching for something. As I moved among the slender white trunks, they moved in turn to let me pass. I felt it was a kindly forest and I wasn't afraid.
In the dream, I had a purpose. I needed to reach a clearing deep in the forest where I was certain I'd find the central theme of this book. But as is the way with dreams, I woke up when I reached the clearing and the theme slipped away from me just as I was about to grasp it. The last thing I remember was a pile of typed words falling in a jumbled heap at my feet.

There is nothing jumbled about this novel however. It's one of the most straightforward of Penelope Fitzgerald's books if you judge novels by standards such as:
—a beginning that takes you right into a dilemma in the main characters' lives
—sufficient back story to make the dilemma believable
—a fabulously described location
—lots of thought provoking conversations among interesting characters
—an ending that makes sense.

So what was it that sent my unconscious mind searching the forest? I'm going to have to tease that out a bit—which is not surprising since there's been an element that I've needed to tease out in all the Fitzgerald novels I've read so far.

This novel is set in Russia in 1913, and revolves around the family life of an Englishman called Frank Reid who runs a printing factory in Moscow called Reidka's. Frank is married to Nellie, who is also English, and they have three very bright children and many colourful retainers. Politics are mentioned often and the threat of revolution looms, along with the fear that Frank and his family may have to leave Russia.
Birch trees are mentioned a lot too—birch wood is used in furniture, birch bark is used for making shoes and as fuel, birch sap is made into a liqueur, and the family dacha is in a birch forest. Then there's the accountant at Reidka's, an eccentric Englishman called Selwyn Crane, who has written a collection of strange poems called 'Birch Tree Thoughts'.

Selwyn was a difficult character to figure out. He seemed to hover over Frank Reid's life in an odd way although the reader is told he is a kind and gentle person, always doing good, and as a disciple of Tolstoy, very committed to living without personal ties or property. His preoccupation with birch trees was difficult to figure out too. It occurs to me now that my dream may have been pointing me towards Selwyn, and that he is connected somehow with the central theme. I've looked back at the many passages I highlighted and found this one:
Selwyn subsided. Now that he saw everything was going well, his mind was turning to his next charitable enterprise. With the terrible aimlessness of the benevolent, he was casting round for a new misfortune.
I'm reminded of the theme of the last Fitzgerald book I read: the preoccupation some people have with doing good for others no matter that those 'others' might not want their interference. And I'm also reminded that sometimes misfortunes have to be fabricated so that the benevolent may get to achieve their purposes. When I look at the story in that light, certain characters' roles change and new understanding creeps in.
But in spite of those changes, and other plot details, I was grateful for the resilience of Frank's children as the story shifted and cracked around them. They were like frozen droplets on the end of birch tree branches, managing to hold on until the spring comes. And the Spring does come although it brings heartache for some: the first sign of spring...had been a protesting voice, when the ice melted under the covered wooden footpath between the house and the factory.

So my dream of the birch forest was useful after all—it helped me understand this story better. And it is really no wonder my search for the book's main theme happened where it happened. There's a fabulous description of a birch forest in the book; I've read it several times even after finishing the story. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
Here it is if you're interested :
Profile Image for Guille.
784 reviews1,745 followers
August 19, 2021
A la manera en la que lo diría Frank, si he de elegir, diría que “El inicio de la primavera” es más bien desconcertante. Los hechos parecen dispersarse en multitud de direcciones que no parecen guardar relación entre sí, más allá de la intención de mostrarnos en un tono burlesco aspectos llamativos de la personalidad rusa y de la Rusia prerrevolucionaria. Desconcierta lo absurdo de algunos diálogos, situaciones y comportamientos. Desconcierta la extravagancia de los personajes, con la excepción de Frank, el inasequible al desaliento marido abandonado, que sirve de punto de contraste para tanta rareza. Desconciertan los motivos de los actos, empezando por los de Nelly, la resuelta esposa en fuga que hasta su “cabello rizado que le nacía en la parte alta de la frente parecía brotar de allí con toda la determinación del mundo.” Desconcierta lo mucho que la novela calla, tanto o más que todo lo que sugiere. Desconcierta lo críptico de algunas partes, como subrayando eso de “La importancia de lo que queda más allá del juicio o la razón”. Desconcierta lo inverosímil de alguno de los giros de la trama. Desconcierta el sentido de su final.

Todo ello transmite un carácter enigmático a la novela y deja al lector, a este lector al menos, con la incómoda impresión de no haber sabido captar todo lo que la novela pudiera encerrar, y, al mismo tiempo, tentado de pensar si lo que uno ha leído no es “simplemente” una novela original y divertida, una comedia de costumbres muy ocurrente y mordaz.

“El inicio de la primavera” me ha desconcertado y como soy muy rencoroso y como a mí, al igual que a la atractiva y misteriosa Lisa, también “me parece poco amable que se le pida a alguien que haga más de lo que puede hacer”, mi calificación no pasa de un notable bajo, ea!
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,221 followers
June 19, 2019
Our knowledge of what, historically, is about to happen haunts every page of this novel set in Moscow in 1913. That's a big advantage of historical fiction. History itself can be called upon to supply a crackling power grid of foreknowledge.

Frank Reid is another of Fitzgerald's decent, likeable, but emotionally stilted male characters. His wife leaves him early in the novel, taking with her their three children. However, unable to cope with them, she almost immediately sends the children back. The children are wonderfully precocious creations - Fitzgerald is brilliant at doing children. I always want more of them. But it's a Fitzgerald trademark to populate her novels with more characters than other writers would need. She's a kind of restless writer who enjoys flitting about like a butterfly, who enjoys economy and transience and leaving you wanting more. Sometimes I find she flits off to a character I'm not terribly interested in while ignoring another I want to know better.

So, Frank's wife leaves him and his household buckles, anticipating the disruption that will soon sweep the entire city. And with one gesture Fitzgerald has also introduced us to the new woman. History is undergoing one of those radical transitions that happen every so often. With such monumental themes playing out this is an extraordinarily localised quirky novel. And it's remarkable how confidently and intimately Fitzgerald writes of Russia and the period. 4+ stars.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,565 reviews1,892 followers
August 20, 2019
Of the three Penelope Fitzgerald novels that I've read this was without a doubt my least favourite.

This is the simple story of an expatriate British printer running a press in Moscow before the First World War and how his life changes as his British wife leaves him (this in the first few pages, so I hold not a spoiler) and he takes on a nanny, not magical but revolutionary, to look after his three children whose wisdom contrasts nicely with his foolishness.

But the way Fitzgerald handled diminutives in this novel grated on me which is to say my tolerance for reading "dear little x" repeatedly is very low, the revolutionary nanny was a little too fantastical ( semi-bolshevik Mary Poppins, or demi-mary Poppins proto-sovietised) and I didn't follow through with the senior printer's action when he found the bullet hole in his apron.

Still, I'll happily recommend Gate of Angels or The Blue Flower, the other two earlier novels of hers that I have read The Bookshop & At Freddie's are good but my feeling is that she improved as she went on and peaked in her last few novels, however reader beware - other opinions are expressed. Though this book too is in many ways beautiful and striking.
Profile Image for Javier.
217 reviews153 followers
August 18, 2021
Open the doors, the Russians say, here comes trouble.

Franz Kafka opinaba que la literatura debía ser como “un puñetazo en el cráneo”. Obviamente, a Kafka no le habrían gustado las novelas de Penelope Fitzgerald. Lejos de la violencia de un golpe, es leve como una caricia o un roce; es una novela sutil. Sutil, esa es la palabra. Hasta ahora la he utilizado con frecuencia para referirme a otros libros, aunque me temo que la debería haber reservado para esta ocasión.
La sutileza de Penelope Fitzgerald brota de una atmósfera ligera y amable, casi de cuento de hadas. La autora siempre supo crear en sus obras mundos ambiguos y sugerentes, en los que nada es lo que parece. Un universo lleno de vívidos detalles, pero que precisa de una gran dosis de complicidad por parte del lector para sostenerse, en parte por su delicada fragilidad, en parte porque su creadora parece haberse ausentado, dejándolo en manos del lector y de los personajes, para que sean ellos los que completen la historia.
La llegada de la primavera es una fecha cargada de simbolismo: en todas las culturas se la relaciona con el renacimiento de la vida, el despertar de los sentidos y, en definitiva, el cambio. Pero es que, además, más allá de las metáforas, cada año, a medida que termina el invierno y se acerca la primavera, sentimos una transformación en nuestro interior, lo queramos o no. Y no sólo porque se acercan las vacaciones o mejora el clima; hay algo, un resorte que nos mantiene en contacto con nuestra naturaleza primigenia, que salta.
Si a todos nos alegra el comienzo de la primavera, cómo será en un país tan frío como Rusia, donde las ventanas han permanecido selladas durante meses, mientras la nieve y el hielo eran los dueños de calles, parques y plazas. El comienzo del deshielo es una fiesta, las casas se abren, hay procesiones y celebraciones por doquier.
Pero en marzo de 1913, los cambios que se presienten en el aire son más que climáticos. Tras la Revolución de 1905 la inestabilidad es la norma en la vida política rusa; los vientos revolucionarios se mezclan con los de una guerra inminente y nadie sabe a ciencia cierta qué sucederá en los próximos meses.
Frank Reid, un inglés afincado desde hace décadas en Moscú, donde posee una imprenta, no es ajeno a los cambios. Si la situación empeora y triunfan los bolcheviques, es probable que deba abandonar el país y su querido negocio. Hace tiempo que está preparado para cualquier sorpresa, menos para la que le espera en casa: Nellie, su mujer, ha recogido sus cosas y se ha ido, llevándose a los tres hijos del matrimonio.
Antes de que pueda hacerse una composición de lugar, Frank recibe una llamada desde la estación del tren: Nellie ha cambiado de idea. Es decir, no ha cambiado de idea respecto a abandonarle, sino respecto a los niños: están en la estación, esperando a que alguien los recoja. Como buen inglés, sólo hay algo que pueda empeorar la situación en la que se encuentra: que esta se vuelva de dominio público.
Pero esto es Rusia y aquí todo es de la incumbencia de todos. Frank es un buen hombre, apreciado por cuantos le conocen, así que en este duro trance va a contar con mucha ayuda: la estirada y mojigata colonia inglesa en Moscú, sus amigos rusos, indiscretos y entrometidos y, por supuesto, su contable y gran amigo Selwyn Crane, un inglés convertido a las creencias tolstoianas, dedicado en cuerpo y alma a hacer el bien a los demás —aunque con escaso éxito.
Con estos y otros mimbres (una misteriosa joven, policías secretos, estudiantes revolucionarios) se teje El inicio de la primavera, una especie de comedia costumbrista inglesa… ambientada en Moscú. Una novela, según Terence Dooley, “perfecta en su género, aunque nadie pueda precisar del todo de qué género se trata.”
Quizá se trate de lo que la propia Penelope Fitzgerald denominó “tragifarsa”, una historia construida sobre un cúmulo de contradicciones (las costumbres rusas frente a las occidentales, las intenciones frente a los hechos, la espiritualidad rusa frente a los ideales revolucionarios o el materialismo occidental) en la que los elementos trágicos están tratados con un humor inteligente y sutil, cercano a veces al absurdo, mientras que los cómicos quedan atenuados por un enfoque formal y serio, como si esas situaciones ridículas fueran lo más normal del mundo.
Al final, el lector tiene la sensación de que la autora ha renunciado a entrometerse en el desarrollo de la historia: todo es obra de las oscuras (y traviesas) fuerzas del destino y, como en la vida real, las cosas pueden llegar a tener un final feliz, pero nunca una explicación.
Es aquí, en la tenue presencia de la autora, donde reside la sutileza de la novela; una ausencia que es un acto de generosidad. Uno tiende a pensar que un escritor generoso es aquel que nos ofrece una gran novela con multitud de historias y personajes, todos ellos bien desarrollados y perfectamente trabajados, verosímiles y ricos en detalles. Después de leer El inicio de la primavera he descubierto otra forma de generosidad: la de Penelope Fitzgeral, que radica precisamente en lo contrario, en renunciar al protagonismo y dejar tanto espacio libre para el lector. Las escritoras sutiles, es lo que tienen.
Profile Image for Laysee.
519 reviews250 followers
July 3, 2019
The Beginning of Spring is an evasive book that left me with more questions at the end than when I began. It was nominated for the Booker Prize, so I must not have grasped Fitzgerald’s intent or purpose. It has an oblique quality both in terms of the story line and character development.

This is the story of Frank Reid, a Moscow-born son of a British expatriate who set up a printing business in Moscow at the turn of the twentieth century. At the start of the novel, Frank is shocked to learn that his wife, Nellie, has abandoned him and his three young children (aged 3, 9 and 10), without any explanation. She has initially taken the children with her, but later left them for collection at the railway station. Frank seems more gravely saddened at the thought of losing his children than his wife. The story revolved around Frank trying to keep his business at the Press running with the help of his trusted accountant (Selwyn Crane) and reliable chief compositor (Tvyordov) and to ensure that his children were cared for. News of Frank’s plight is common knowledge in the small Russian town, but when he hires a very young, peasant woman (Lisa) as a live-in helper, more than one person (especially the vicar’s wife) think it quite improper. It does not help that Frank himself feels drawn to Lisa. There is no news of Nellie. The children (more sensible than usual for their age) do not seem to miss her and neither does Frank although he keeps sending her letters to her home in England. Is Nellie ever coming back to her family in Moscow? Do the neighbors have good reason to cast aspersions on Frank’s living arrangements at home? Frank has the support of his colleague, Selwyn, a spiritual man who lives simply, writes poetry about birch trees, and extends charity to the poor and needy. And yet, Selwyn is not exactly who he appears to be, and neither is Lisa.

Even though Fitzgerald wrote a strong prose style, for some reason I could not engage with the characters. There is a wooden quality to Frank who seems emotionally muted. His passions seem all swaddled up beneath a show of reasonableness. More seem to happen in the story than we are given to know. We do not quite understand why Nellie chose to leave nor do we know her intentions for the future. When the story ends, I get the sense that it is only just beginning. Perhaps, this is why the book is titled The Beginning of Spring. There is a hint of better days.

Yet despite these ambiguities, Fitzgerald painted a vivid picture of Moscow in 1913 and created a tangible sense of place and time. This is quite remarkable for an English writer. We feel the wintry chill, the ice on the sidewalks; we see the lamps that lit the homes that do not yet have electricity, the inner and outer windows tightly sealed, and tea being brewed in a samovar. In early spring, the ice melts under the covered footpaths, the almond trees begin to flower, the city folks are back on their bicycles, and the chickens flee their shed.

This is a book I may have to read again in order to do justice to Fitzgerald’s craft.
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book394 followers
June 12, 2023
Penelope Fitzgerald writes The Revenant. Well, maybe not quite, but there is a scene where a group of children abuse a bear cub that was particularly torturous for me to read. My second to last Fitzgerald novel, and the first to make me cringe--her books don't tend to evoke feelings of that sort. Imagine A. A. Milne chronicling the death of Winnie the Pooh, but more credit to Fitzgerald as a wonderful writer for pulling it off. Okay, the animal lover in me may be obsessing over this just a bit as the section is no more than a page long.

Like the melting of winter snow (so original, I know), The Beginning of Spring trickles along in fits and starts, but whatever direction it takes off in, it seems meant to have done so all along. Having abandoned this book about halfway through earlier in the year, I am more than ever a believer in the right book at the right time.

"And he's a vegetarian, too, like George Bernard Shaw. But Shaw isn't a poet. It must be easier for him, writing prose, to sustain himself on vegetables."
Profile Image for Laura .
378 reviews151 followers
June 8, 2019
'Charlie thinks very highly of Lisa Ivanovna,' said Frank.
'He's told you that already.'
'Of course he thinks quite highly of her!' Mrs Graham cried, raising her voice to a pitch that Frank had never heard before. 'Show me a single man in this city who wouldn't! Quiet, blonde, slow-witted, nubile, docile, doesn't speak English, hardly speaks at all in fact, sloping shoulders, half-shut eyes, hasn't broadened out yet though I daresay she will, proper humility, reasonable manners, learned I suppose behind the counter at Muirka's.'
'I don't think her eyes are usually half-shut,' said Frank.
'You're all of you serf-owners at heart! Yes, this brother-in-law too! ...'

Mrs Graham is the wife of the English Chaplain in Moscow, 1913 and Frank visits her on several occasions, requiring help with his three children who have been returned to him, after his wife, Nellie's sudden departure.

This is how Fitzgerald introduces us to her:

He was not afraid of Mrs Graham, or at least not as afraid as some people were. In any case, in taking his predicament to her he was doing her a service. She was a scholar's daughter, brought up in Cambridge, and not reconciled to Moscow. ...
'Mr Reid?' she called out in her odd, high lightly drawling voice. 'This is an expected pleasure.'
'You knew I was going to come and ask you something?'
'Of course.'
Restless as a bird of prey which has not caught anything for several days, she nodded him towards the seat next to her. There were no comfortable chairs in the chaplaincy, except in Mr Graham's study.

Two longish quotes right at the beginning of my review - because there is only one way to appreciate Fitzgerald, and that is to read her for your self.

In this novel - Mrs Graham, I suspect represents the voice of reason. From my perspective at least, she most certainly presents, the best all round summary of the male characters - and of Lisa Ivanovna.

Although, and I am surprised to say this, perhaps the most perfect part of this novel for me is Fitzgerald's totally convincing recreation of a man in love. Most of our world is made up of the commonplace and in this novel - that follows exactly as we would expect - the world of men, of their machines, their social vying and competition with each other. The world of women, of children, of housekeeping, the world of servants -and yet intermingled through all these everyday, common lives - there is the unspoken, the hidden, the never mentioned - the world of sex. And this is so beautifully done - the attraction between Frank Reid and his lately appointed governess, Lisa.

As I was reading this novel - I enjoyed it, but I started to feel restless, I could see the pages slipping by and I wondered where is all this comedy of manners and Dickensian type sketching going to lead, and then suddenly towards the end - there is the most evocative of scenes, which is superbly set up with a description of the birch trees, close to the summer house, dacha, where the children have begged to go for 'The Beginning of Spring':

Although there was a large industrial town three miles away, with workers' suburbs and dormitories, Shirokaya could only be reached by a woodcutters' branch-line along the edge of the forest. The nearest village, Ostanovka, got its name from the railway halt. From there the quickest way was on foot through the woods, while the luggage went round by the carrier's horse and cart. The carrier also came round twice a week to fill the water-barrels. The rye-bread, heavy as tombstone, was bought in the village. The tea they brought with them from Moscow.

All commonplaces - the details of day to day life and then you have this:

As the young birches grew taller the skin at the base of the trunks fragmented and shivered into dark and light patches. The branches showed white against black, black against white. The young twigs were fine and whip-like, dark brown with a purple gloss. As soon as the shinning leaf-buds split open the young leaves breathed out an aromatic scent, not so thick as the poplar but wilder and more memorable, the true scent of wild and lonely places. The male catkins appeared in pairs, the pale female catkins followed. The leaves, turning from bright olive to a darker green were agitated and astir even when the wind dropped. They were never strong enough to block out the light completely. The birch forest, unlike the pine forest, always gives a chance of life to whatever grows beneath it.

This wonderful, stunning description of trees continues for several more paragraphs, and as I re-read it, I most clearly thought of the "Rites of Spring" - I think music by Stravinsky.

And then we come to what is the heart of the novel - which I will not disclose here.

In summation of the whole I can only say - it probably comes close to one of the best novels I have ever read - and when I commented that it felt like Anna Karenina, in my notes, I was not wrong. It has the same passion and same understanding of people set in the most incredible world of a wintry Moscow and the dacha slowing decomposing back into the woods. Please read.
Profile Image for Lawyer.
384 reviews841 followers
May 19, 2021
The Beginning of Spring: Russia 1913

Prepare to be immersed in Russia on the verge of World War One and the following Revolution. Fitzgerald has done a a masterful job of historical research creating Moscow culture as it existed. The Tsar yields complete power. Tolstoy is now considered a political figure hostile to the State. Equally watched are the country's students, considered the most dangerous and vocal against the empire.

But this would not be a Fitzgerald novel without a group of characters slightly out of place, clueless as to how they find themselves in places they haven't the slightest notion how they found themselves in such a pickle.

From the Introduction: The Beginning of Spring
The people she wrote about in her novels and biographies were outsiders, too: misfits, romanticize artists, hopeful failures, misunderstood lovers, orphans and oddities. She was drawn to unsettled characters who lived on the edges.

Her view of the world was that it divided into ‘exterminators’ and ‘exterminatees’. She would say: ‘I am drawn to people who seem to have been born defeated or even profoundly lost.’ She was a humorous writer with a tragic sense of life.

And it is that mix of humor and tragedy you will find in this novel as well as her others. This is my third Fitzgerald. I will not be content until I have read them all. In a nushell, they are enchanting.

Our hapless unsettled outsider here is Frank Reid, the owner of a printing company in Moscow. It's not his business decision to start this business. His father began the business. Frank was born and raised in Russia. He now owns it. Father has died leaving him the heir. Included in the legacy is a mammoth printing press which must be sold or "Reidka's will without doubt fail.

Frank's problems multiply. His English born wife, Nellie, leaves him a letter delivered by messenger that she has left him. Not only has she left him, she's taken thei three children. Frank wonders why she had a letter delivered by messenger. She had always had a lot. To say. Well, not lately. Yes, too wound up in the business, Frank.

Frank's next surprise is a message from a train station. Nellie has dropped the children off. Would Mr. Reid be so kind as to come fetch them? Of course, but what will he do with them. He must have someone to watch them.. A visit to the Chaplaincy yields no likely governess.

Enter Frank's second in command who produces an employee from a department store who sells men's handkerchiefs. She has no experience as a governess. Frank's partner ultimately suggests that the presence of an attractive young lady might lead to a sexual relationship.

Enter Frank's brother in law Charles with only the news he hasn't been able to locate Nellie. After meeting the governess Charles offers Frank to take the three kiddies to England provided the governess goes with him. Frank's answer is a resounding NO. Frank. Loves her. And tells her.

It is the beginning of spring. It is warm enough for a trip to the family Daucha. Frank's love asks for five days to think about his proposal.

And that's all you're getting out of this reviewer. Why? I want you to READ THIS BOOK. Fitzgerald didn't begin writing fiction until age 60. She's considered the finest writer in Great Britain in the past forty-five years. Based on the three novels I've read, I believe it.
Profile Image for Lyn Elliott.
699 reviews187 followers
December 7, 2016
This is the first of Fitzgerald's novels that I've read, and I felt much better about feeling a bit lost after I'd read several substantial reviews. I enjoyed it, and I wanted to know more about Fitzgerald and her works.

Alan Hollinghurst first: (1)
'Many readers have found Fitzgerald an elusive writer—though the elusiveness may be as much a fascination as a barrier.
Hers was very much the art that hides art, and she had besides a horror of explanation. She can introduce characters in the most glancing way, so that it is as if we were put in a room with them, alert for any signal of who they might be.
If she hated explanations, she was wary too of conclusions, which are a form of explanation'.

Well, I certainly found it opaque, and much remained hidden from me at the end, and most people's actions weren't explained so I'm left to guess, which does keep me thinking about the characters and the plot. and why set it in Russia in 1913? Fascinating, but I have no idea. I have the feeling there must be a reason, it must have meaning, but I can't discern what.

Robert McCrum in The Guardian (2): 'its peculiar magic almost defies analysis. The closer you get to it, the more elusive its mystery and technique'.
Yes, they are elusive, as are most of the characters.

Then there was one review (American) which referred to it as a domestic comedy.
Did we read the same book?

One totally unexpected point of view came from M.D. Noe (3), who saw the birch tree as a potent symbol, and Selwyn Crane, as pivotal to the plot, most obviously as author of Birch Tree Thoughts but also symbolically.

Noe writes:
'The birch broom is a tool for cleaning, literally for sweeping floors, but also symbolically for sweeping away bad weather or evil spirits, especially at the start of a new year. It is both a symbol of witches and a means of warding off witches... In Russia specifically, the birch symbolizes spring and young women', and renewal.
'Selwyn Crane provides a mechanism to both punish and cleanse Frank Reid. The book of poems represents Crane's Tolstoyan philosophy but also symbolizes the purification process through which Frank Reid must pass before his new beginning'.

I'm interested in the ideas here, including the witches in the forest, but can't help feeling that seeing the poems as a recleansing fire for Frank is a step too far.

1 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/...
2 https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...
3 NOE, M.D., 2001. Fitzgerald's The Beginning Of Spring. The Explicator, 59(4), pp. 204-206.
Profile Image for Usha.
138 reviews4 followers
January 29, 2021
A simple plot, deep prose, vague and obscure details tells a revealing story of Frank Reid, whose wife leaves him and their three children without any explanation or reasons. The novel is set in Moscow 1913 in the pre-dawn of the Bolshevik revolution. The novel was shortlisted for the 1988 Booker Prize. The beauty of the novel lies in the economy of words but at the same time illustrates an evocative picture of a household and a nation in turmoil.
Profile Image for Judith Johnson.
Author 1 book87 followers
June 22, 2017
This is the second novel I've read by the author. There are numerous rave reviews by illustrious writers from when it was published, and I can't argue: it is in my opinion a most beautifully written story set in a certain time (1913), place (Moscow) and situation (an English home), and for me it was completely captivating. It has also stimulated me to go and drag all my Russian-subject books off various shelves in the house which are waiting to be read and put them all in one place on my TBR bookshelf. This for me, is a book deserving of a place in the Very Best of English Literature, and I am certainly going to look out for more of PF's work. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,413 reviews491 followers
August 6, 2022
The Beginning of Spring, written in the late 1980's, is surprising on so many levels. That it was written by Penelope Fitzgerald in an anachronistic style but with modern sensibilities, and contained such minute detail of life in Russia in the last era of the tsarist times, the spirituality and ambiguity of certain elements, made it intriguing on so many levels. There was an especially cruel scene, noted by others, that illuminated some of the characters, but it only underscored the interest incurred by the author.
Profile Image for Karina.
850 reviews
August 20, 2019
The story follows Frank Reid's life. As soon as you read the first page you understand that his wife, Nellie, has left him and has taken the 3 children with her with not a note or word to anyone. Frank is born and raised in Russia to British parents so the Russians always see him as an outsider businessman. The story is set in Moscow 1913 before the beginning of spring, hence the name of the book.

Frank is a practical man in all areas of his life. From English printer to husband, father, friend, and patriot. His life seems like it is spiraling out of control since Nellie walked out of the door but Frank's story is funny yet patiently stressful (is there's such a thing). Everyone knows his business and everyone has an opinion, even the three kids Nellie decided to leave behind at the train station.

The young blonde nanny his friend Selwyn recommends to babysit the children is put into the story. Frank thinks he is in love with her never knowing her. This is when everyone has an opinion about the nanny. Does he love her bc Nellie is gone and needs companionship or does he love her bc she is a young blonde nanny and he happens to have a penis?

Penelope Fitzgerald writes like a true Russian novelist. I was surprised by my liking the story. The tone is lilting with dark comedy but never off putting. I would def recommend if you are into Russian style story telling. Very little conversations, lots of descriptive scenes and backstory. Very short though.
Profile Image for Marisol.
678 reviews35 followers
June 3, 2020
Después de muchas lecturas regulares a buenas, llegue a una historia que me fascino, tengo cierta predilección por los autores rusos y su manera tan única de conocer el alma humana y las profundidades de su hermoso país.

Esta historia escrita por una inglesa en territorio ruso con mezcla de personajes enteramente rusos, enteramente ingleses, o medios ingleses, resulta en algo muy entrañable.

El personaje central Frank está viviendo un invierno desconcertante, es un ruso de padres ingleses, con un negocio de imprenta, una familia con tres chiquillos, una esposa, con un nivel social bueno pero que no acaba de tener un estatus concreto en esa ramificación de clases rusa que es compleja y depende no solo de recursos, sino de apellidos, oficio, amigos, etc,

Todo esta vida de Frank se tambalea debido a un acontecimiento extraño e imprevisto que lo hace cambiar radicalmente, y en busca del bienestar de sus hijos recorre las calles, las personas y los lugares más variopintos.

Hay varias vueltas de tuerca que me hicieron reflexionar en que un buen escritor es anarquía pura, es decir independientemente de lo que consideremos conveniente para tal o cual personaje, el autor hará lo que le venga en gana, y a veces esto se traduce en una historia redonda, con personajes muy bien construidos, y una ambientación bastante precisa, esa minuciosidad en describirnos el paso del invierno hasta el inicio de la primavera es encantador y muy apegado a la narrativa rusa como un homenaje muy digno.

Escenas que recordaré tiene a montón, como la persecución de la cual es objeto Frank por una institutriz vieja y desempleada. El intento fallido de robo en su imprenta, o la personalidad excéntrica del contable que trabaja para el, o el personaje de la esposa, una presencia que está omnipresente en toda la lectura.

De más esta decir que las condiciones de la Rusia paranoica, inestable e impredecible están, a veces imperceptibles y otras se despliegan con mucha fuerza.

Profile Image for Kirsten.
243 reviews28 followers
February 18, 2016
I liked this declaration from one of the characters in this novel, after he has been accused of being an unbeliever:

"Not an unbeliever, sir, a free-thinker. Perhaps you've never thought about the difference. As a free-thinker I can believe what I like, when I like. I can commit you, in your sad situation, to the protection of God this evening, even though tomorrow morning I shan't believe he exists. As an unbeliever I should be obliged not to believe, and that's an unwarrantable restriction on my thoughts."

Maybe it also describes the general climate of this novel, which is ambiguous, mysterious, and doesn't force you to come to any binding conclusions about the characters or even what has occurred.

I read this a few weeks ago now and dimly remember feeling rankled by the omniscient narrator--something about the voice seemed smug to me. But now I'm not sure it wasn't just the mood I was in. Fitgerald conveys worlds (pre-Revolutionary Mosow in this case) and histories with such subtlety and economy, I see why so many people consider her a master.
Profile Image for Dagný.
119 reviews
July 30, 2013
Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000) has written some of my absolutely favorite novels, The Blue Flower,The Bookshop, and, now, The Beginning of Spring. They are unconventional and superbly right, one feels the surprises are true. The range of the ordinary to the mystical, the historically peculiar to the true of all times reverberates from the sparse, elegant text. Then there is the humor and the heartbreaking love for the characters; somehow even their shortest appearance will nevertheless manifest their being.
Fitzgerald wrote these books after turning sixty. She would know the human soul, yet has the strength of desire driving her to explore the curiosities of mankind's ways. Now Fitzgerald is long gone but her work remains. I still have a couple unread; little depots of pleasure on the way ahead.
The Bookshop presumably drew on a time when Fitzgerald ran a little bookshop herself, The Blue Flower has a historical setting in Germany in the 1790's among the Romantic writers and philosophers, Novalis in particular. The Beginning of Spring is set in pre revolutionary Moscow, a place she never visited. Neither have I and there I was, too.
Profile Image for Joanne.
794 reviews18 followers
January 12, 2015
This is a book where nothing happens and nobody cares about anything. The characters don't care and I didn't care about the characters.
Profile Image for Paul Fulcher.
Author 2 books1,305 followers
May 4, 2016
In my review of Penelope Fitzgerald's The Gate of Angels I praised "Fitzgerald's wonderfully compact prose. In 160 pages she manages to tell a (simple) story, create an evocative sense of historical place, introduce us to some memorably baffling characters and explore a number of powerful themes.
Against that, the novel suffers from, to the reader at least, oblique (at least to the reader) developments and characters, although ultimately that is a function of Fitzgerald's brevity and a part of her charm. "

I could - indeed I have! - simply cut and paste this for this review, and out of the 5 of Fitzgerald's books which I have read, it mostly closely resembles The Gate of Angels.

As always with Fitzgerald, she has a wonderful ability to provide the one-line character sketch. The fussy sister-in-law of Frank, the main character: "Frank got the impression that Grace always talked about damp." His purposeful wife: "even her curling hair seemed to spring up her for head with determination."

And beautiful sentences. This when the Chief Compositor is absent from Frank's print works: "Hand printing, whose rhythm was still that of the human body, went adrift with the disappearance of the pacesetter, assumed always to be on duty as the given condition of the whole process."

One key obvious difference is the setting - pre revolutionary Russia. There is something quintessentially English about the settings of her other novels (Blue Flower obviously excepted): the conservative countryside (The Bookshop), cloistered Cambridge (The Gate of Angels), or eccentric houseboat life (Offshore).

Here, I had mixed views as to whether Fitzgerald was successful.

She provides similarly adroit character sketches for the Russian characters, and even Moscow itself:

"Dear, slovenly, mother Moscow, bemused with the bells of its four times forty churches, indifferently sheltering factories, whore houses and golden domes, impeded by Greeks and Persians and bewildered villagers and seminarians straying on to the tramlines, centred on its holy citadel, but reaching outwards with a frowsty leap across the boulevards to the circle of workers' dormitories and railheads, where the monasteries still prayed, and at last to a circle of pig-sties, cabbage patches, earth roads, earth closets, where Moscow sank back, seemingly with relief, into a village."

And she manages to pack in a lot of interesting detail of Russian life (e.g. that windows were literally sealed with putty for the winter and the forced opening of the windows marks the beginning of spring), capturing well the flavour of a country where nature is implacable and the authorities capricious:

"In a country where nature represented not freedom, but law, where the harbours freed themselves from ice one after another, in majestic sequence, and the earth's harvest failed unfailingly once in every three years, the human authorities proceeded by fits and starts and inexplicable welcomes and withdrawals"

But, against that, most of the main characters are British by origin and at times it's easy to forget the setting. At times it seems like the Russian and period details are mere facades over an English comedy of manners, although in a sense that reflects Frank's own character and situation, as flagged from the outset:
"Frank had been born and brought up in Moscow, and though he was quiet by nature and undemonstrative, he knew there were times when his life has to be acted out, as though on a stage."

Overall, not as strong as Offshore or City of Angels, but enjoyable nevertheless, and perhaps the funniest of the 5 of her novels that I have read.
Profile Image for Shayla.
275 reviews4 followers
March 30, 2011
Yikes. I don't think I've rolled my eyes more while reading a book. Nellie leaves, does Frank care? I don't think so. She leaves the kids at the train station to get back to Moscow on their own. Do they care that their mom has left them? I don't think so. Then we get lots of descriptions of Reidkas, and Tolstoyian things and Birch Trees. Plus more descriptions of Russian activities, a little bit of England and Nellie's life, Birch Trees, everyone knows the goings on at Frank's house, enter Lisa, Frank "loves" her...ugh ugh ugh. The last few chapters were by far the most interesting, but that still couldn't raise this book above one star for me.

*** After reading another book that I just gave one star, I have decided to amend my rating of this book to two stars. Did I like The Beginning of Spring? NO. But it was well written and had some promise. What I disliked most were her characters. I didn't find them amusing in the least and the depiction of Moscow left me bored, but the writing was good. So two stars and not one. 03/30/11
Profile Image for SilveryTongue.
370 reviews57 followers
May 11, 2019
3,5 estrellas

Lo más interesante de esta novela, es el enfoque que da la escritora a una Rusia de principios del siglo XX vista a través de los ojos de una familia inglesa perteneciente a la burguesía. Un Moscú con sus bellezas y miserias; es realmente destacable el trabajo de ambientación que nos ofrece Penélope Fitzgerald.

El argumento en sí es bastante particular; un matrimonio inglés con tres hijos y una vida desahogada y sin grandes conflictos es sacudida por la partida precipitada de la madre, la cual abandona a su marido y tres hijos a un destino aparentemente desconocido, sin embargo esto no deriva en tragedia doméstica, Penélope no muestra que está singular familia logra salir bastante airosa de su perdida con un sin número de situaciones cómicas e hilarantes.

Es la tercera novela de Fitzgerald que leo y siempre da una agradable sorpresa en sus originales argumentos.
Profile Image for Andy Weston.
2,499 reviews153 followers
March 22, 2017
Late in the winter of 1913 in Moscow expat Frank Reid's wife leaves him. To his surprise she doesn't take their three young children, or rather, only as far as the station, from where they are returned to him. 'They ought to be quieter or more noisy than before' Frank observes suspiciously as he embarks on a testing time as father and looking after his busy printing business. Some wonderful characters appear throughout the months as the Moscow ice melts and spring begins, not least the accountant Selwyn Crane. Most of all Fitzgerald's book which ticks over quietly is about the period in Russian history. It's links to England are something I was not aware of. What makes it so readable is the backdrop of humour that is so very Russian. Throughout the book I had a permanent smile.
Profile Image for David.
805 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2020
Penelope shines again. This feels like the funniest of her novels I've read so far (over Offshore, The Bookshop, and The Gate of Angels, though they're all very witty) but it also has a beautiful weight to it. She's as perceptive as ever in swiftly, deftly describing the way people interact with one another, and her construction of story is as angular and unpredictable as ever. Fantastic. Highly recommended.

2020 reread: still perhaps my favorite of PF’s novels. So funny. So understated and dry and witty. Stronger clarity than ever about how extremely carefully constructed her novels are without feeling at all over-schematized.
Profile Image for Richard Moss.
476 reviews9 followers
January 10, 2016
I discovered Penelope Fitzgerald when I picked up a cheap copy of Offshore - her Booker Prize winner - and have loved everything I've read since.

This may be her best work though. First, it is fantastically funny - it made me laugh out loud many times. It's a subtle, dry deadpan humour - asides and subtexts - but wonderfully crafted. The visit of Frank's brother-in-law is a masterpiece of comic writing. Frank's daughter Dolly is also a delight.

But of course it is much more than that. A bit like our protagonist Frank, this book somehow manages to be very English but also suffused with Russian flavours. Vodka and Tolstoy are in the mix.

It is set in a Russia on the brink of momentous change - but that is handled subtly, avoiding the trap of making the characters somehow aware of what's to come.

I have seen some reviews suggest Frank is a frustrating blank - barely reacting to his wife's departure. This is a complete misreading of the book. The despair, confusion and melancholy are all there if you read closely - it's just that he does what most humans do when facing adversity - he gets on with his life as best he can.

As in Fitzgerald's other work, there is warmth and humanity but there's strangeness and darkness too - I'll never forget the scene involving a bear cub.

Her prose as ever is unfussy, but it is precise and brilliant. She paints a convincing portrait of a time and place she never visited.

It's quite simply a work of genius, I loved every minute I spent reading it - and it has a brilliant ending. I am sure I will return to this book many times.
Profile Image for Eva Stachniak.
Author 8 books449 followers
November 30, 2008
Another wise and amazing historical novel. A slim volume that manages to catch the spirit of Russia at the eve of the revolutionary changes.
A gem.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,669 reviews2,664 followers
April 8, 2022
(3.5) My fourth from Fitzgerald. One of her later novels, this was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Its pre-war Moscow setting seemed to take on extra significance as I read it during the early weeks of the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Its title is both literal, referring to the March days in 1913 when “there was the smell of green grass and leaves, inconceivable for the last five months” and the expatriate Reid family can go to their dacha once again, and metaphorical. For what seems to printer Frank Reid – whose wife Nellie has taken a train back to England and left him to raise their three children alone – like an ending may actually presage new possibilities when his accountant, Selwyn, hires a new nanny for the children.

I have previously found Fitzgerald’s work slight, subtle to the point of sailing over my consciousness without leaving a ripple. While her characters and scenes still underwhelm – I always want to go deeper – I liked this better than the others I’ve read (The Bookshop, Offshore, and The Blue Flower), perhaps simply because it’s not a novella so is that little bit more expansive. And though she’s not an author you’d turn to for plot, more does actually happen here, including a gunshot. Frank is a genial Everyman, fond of Russia yet exasperated with its bureaucracy and corruption – this “magnificent and ramshackle country.” He knows how things work and isn’t above giving a bribe when it’s expedient for his business:
He took an envelope out of his drawer, and, conscious of taking only a mild risk, since the whole unwieldy administration of All the Russias, which kept working, even if only just, depended on the passing of countless numbers of such envelopes, he slid it across the top of the desk. The inspector opened it without embarrassment, counted out the three hundred roubles it contained and transferred them to a leather container, half way between a wallet and a purse, which he kept for ‘innocent income’.

I particularly liked Uncle Charlie’s visit, the glimpses of Orthodox Easter rituals, and a strangely mystical moment of communion with some birch trees. A part of me did wonder if the setting was neither here nor there, if a few plastered-on descriptions of Moscow were truly enough to constitute convincing historical fiction. That’s a question for those more familiar with Russia and its literature to answer, but I enjoyed the seasonal awakening.

Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.
Profile Image for Cathryn Conroy.
1,075 reviews35 followers
April 14, 2023
This is a short but mighty novel with two surprise plot twists at the end. Written by Penelope Fitzgerald, it was shortlisted for the prestigious (1988) Booker Prize.

Taking place in March/April 1913 in Moscow—a time when the transition from winter to spring is something that is not only visible to the eyes, but also something that can be heard as the ice cracks—this is the story of Frank Reid, a British expat, his wife, Nellie, and their three children, Dolly, Ben and Annushka. Frank was born and raised in Russia and educated in England, but Nellie had never been to Russia until she married Frank. The book opens with Frank making a shocking discovery: Nellie has left him and taken the three children. Then it gets worse. She has sent the children back to him on a train by themselves (Dolly, the eldest, is only 8 years old), and they are waiting for him to pick them up at the train station. Now Frank, who owns a printing business, must find someone to take care of the children while he runs his business. With several false starts that are somewhat humorous, he finally hires the beautiful 19-year-old Lisa Ivanovna after the printing company's somewhat odd bookkeeper, Selwyn Crane, inexplicably goes to great lengths to make the introduction.

Although this book does not have a riveting plot, the quirky characters and beautiful, almost poetic, writing give it a magical spark that held my interest as I was drawn bit by bit into this upper-middle class Russian household.

Do pay special attention to the symbolism of the birch trees, which are mentioned throughout the novel in different ways. Birch trees are a symbol of rebirth and renewal, new beginnings and growth, and purification—perfect for spring. The white birch is one of the most common and beloved trees in Russia, appearing in numerous literary works.
Profile Image for Girish.
899 reviews218 followers
December 9, 2019
"Not an unbeliever, sir, a free-thinker. Perhaps you've never thought about the difference. As a free-thinker I can believe what I like, when I like. I can commit you, in your sad situation, to the protection of God this evening, even though tomorrow morning I shan't believe he exists. As an unbeliever I should be obliged not to believe, and that's an unwarrantable restriction on my thoughts."

Penelope Fitzgerald's sleepwalks through a tough setting betting on her understanding of the human emotions. 1913 Russia with history's spoiler is where Frank Reid runs his printing press.

The book starts off with Nellie, his wife, abruptly leaving him and Moscow. She abandons the children at the railway station and proceeds off. Life takes a turn for an almost non-emotive Frank Reid - whose expressionless resignation to his fate makes you worry for him.

The next few week when he 'adjusts' to his new reality while telling us more about the Russia of 1913 forms the rest of the book. There are chapters that say precious little and there are some which tell you a lot more than you can grasp.

The staff at his press are a motley bunch. You keep expecting something to get political - but more often than not, you have an earnest bunch of people who romanticise the politics. Inevitably you also get to see the other side - the unfairness of it all on the hardworking people who own the resources.

As long as you realise Ms.Fitzgerald often paints pictures than narrate stories - you will enjoy the book.
Profile Image for Lahierbaroja.
565 reviews143 followers
September 11, 2016

¿Cómo puede contar tanto y no caer en la pesadez? ¿Cómo condensar tantos temas sin ser aburrida? ¿Cuál es su secreto? La sutileza. No nos cuenta cada detalle, cada palabra y cada gesto, sino que nos da un esbozo, un guiño y una frase. Lo relevante es que su estilo va calando poco a poco: no hay muchas descripciones, pero las que incluye son elocuentes; no hay demasiados personajes, pero los que existen son un modo de ejemplificar a todo un grupo de individuos, es decir, como un modo de actuar, como una silueta de una escena más grande.

La mezcla de todo lo anterior da lugar a una novela elegante, donde tiene cabida tanto el relato social de la época, como la crítica a determinados sectores de la población y donde al mismo tiempo juega un papel importante la intriga y las incógnitas que nos va planteando.

Lo que Fitzgerald propone es una novela compleja, que se puede mirar desde tantos ámbitos como ella propone. Es una novela de silencios y espacios, donde le toca al lector imaginarse determinados aspectos, donde no todo está dicho, lo cual, a mi entender, le aporta si cabe más valor.

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