Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The World is Changing

The Bookshop, the Gate of Angels, the Blue Flower (Everyman's Library (Alfred a. Knopf, Inc.).)
The Gate of Angels 
by Penelope Fitzgerald

"How could the wind be so strong, so far inland, that cyclists coming into the town in the late afternoon looked more like sailors in peril? This was on the way into Cambridge, up Mill Road past the cemetery and the workhouse. On the open ground to the left the willow trees had been blown, driven and cracked until their branches gave way and lay about the drenched grass, jerking convulsively and trailing cataracts of twigs. The cows had gone mad, tossing up the silvery weeping leaves which were suddenly, quite contrary to all their experience, everywhere within reach. Their horns were festooned with willow boughs. Not being able to see properly, they tripped and fell. Two or three of them were wallowing on their backs, idiotically, exhibiting vast pale bellies intended by nature to be always hidden. They were still munching. A scene of disorder, tree-tops on the earth, legs in the air, in a  university city devoted to logic and reason."   — Penelope Fitzgerald

The world is always changing and never more so than at Cambridge University in 1912 as it is on the threshold of world-changing discoveries in physics and more. A young man, a rational man, named Fred Fairly, the only son of a clergyman, is a junior fellow at the university’s smallest college, St. Angelicus, closed to women for 500 years. Fred’s experiences with family, colleagues, and the mysterious, beautiful Daisy Saunders, who literally crashes into his life—bring him into a wider world and to some drastic modifications of his diehard beliefs and ambitions.
In this luminous and sublime novel, Fitzgerald creates a story from apparently irreconcilable strands, from the metaphysical to the religious, with ample mystery, romance, and history thrown in. Atoms and ghosts, angels and villains, certainty and chance, love and jealousy, reason and imagination, all figure prominently in the world within this novel. And a collision between any two of them can change the course of a life, or of life itself. The Gate of Angels is both intelligent and entertaining giving the reader a delightful ride through the world of Britain on the eve of the Great War.

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