SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
Frank Reid had been born and brought up in Moscow. His father
had emigrated there in the 1870s and started a print-works which,
by 1913, had shrunk from what it was when Frank inherited it. In
that same year, to add to his troubles, Frank's wife Nellie caught
the train back home to England, without explanation.
How is a reasonable man like Frank to cope? How should he keep
his house running? Should he consult the Anglican chaplain's wife?
Should he listen to the Tolstoyan advice of his chief book-keeper?
How do people live together, and what happens when, sometimes, they
"For the life of me I can't decide how properly to respond to
this book. Whether it contains a latent moral or allegorical
message, or whether it is simply a tour de force of craft and
imagination I have not the faintest idea. I only know that it is
one of the most skilful and utterly fascinating novels I have read
for years. I cannot imagine any kind of reader who would not get a
thrill from this gloriously peculiar book."
JAN MORRIS, ''Independent''
"Penelope Fitzgerald has produced a real Russian comedy, at once
crafty and scatty. She has mastered a city, a landscape and a
vanished time. She has written something remarkable, part novel,
part evocation, and done so in prose that never puts a foot wrong.
She is so unostentatious a writer that she needs to be read several
times. What is impressive is the calm confidence behind the
apparent simplicity of utterance. ''The Beginning of Spring'' is
her best novel to date."
ANITA BROOKNER, ''Spectator''