Information about the author.
Set in the age of Goethe, in the small towns and great universities of late-eighteenth-century Germany, The Blue Flower tells the true story of a passionate, impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis, and of his curious obsession for his one “true philosophy”—the plain and simple twelve-year-old Sophie. The irrationality of love and the clarity of purpose that come with knowing one’s own fate—these are the themes that Penelope Fitzgerald explores here with her trademark mix of wit, grace, and mischievous humor.
On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of eccentrics live in houseboats. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they belong to one another. There is Maurice, a homosexual prostitute; Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man; but most of all there’s Nenna, the struggling mother of two wild little girls. How each of their lives complicates the others is the stuff of this perfect little novel.
In 1912, rational Fred Fairly, one of Cambridge’s best and brightest, crashes his bike and wakes up in bed with a stranger—fellow casualty Daisy Saunders, a charming, pretty, generous working-class nurse. So begins a series of complications—not only of the heart but also of the head—as Fred and Daisy take up each other’s education and turn each other’s philosophies upside down.
Frank Reid is a struggling printer in Moscow. On the eve of the Revolution, his wife returns to her native England, leaving him to raise their three young children alone. How does a reasonable man like Frank cope? Should he listen to the Tolstoyan advice of his bookkeeper? And should he, in his wife’s absence, resist his desire for his lovely Russian housemaid? How can anyone know how to live the right life?
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop—the only bookshop—in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors’ lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence’s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn’t always a town that wants one.