Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald



The Blue Flower
by Penelope Fitzgerald


Paperback: 240 pages


Publisher: Mariner Books (April 15, 1997)



The Blue Flower
is set in Saxony, Germany during its Romantic period at the very end of the 18th century, and based on the life of Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801) before he became known as the poet Novalis. Historical figures of the time such as the poet Goethe and philosopher Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel are also present. It's a detailed and sometimes wry look into the daily life and thinking of the times and this young poet in his courtship of his beloved. The object of this highly intelligent philosophy student's passion was to everyone else a mere dullard of a child, one Sophie von Kuhn. The setting has an incredibly real feel to it, right down to what they wore and what they ate. A good day at the fair for example would be topped off by your heart's desire buying you a pig's ear or snout boiled in peppermint schnapps to munch on.

Each short chapter is like a set piece, every detail and character entirely believable and real. You feel as if you're there. While the romance, or the lofty ideal of it at least, is central to the story, for me, it was just the form to set this amazingly original historical and biographical fiction around. The blue flower is an important symbol of Romanticism. It stands for desire, love, and the metaphysical striving for the infinite and unreachable. At just over 200 pages, The Blue Flower is a comfortable read, a perfect way to spend the day in a very different place and time. Highly recommended.

Source: Bookmooch
Why I Picked Up This Book: Orange Prize nominee (1996)

Other Books Read By This Author: Offshore***** (Booker Prize winner 1979) and The Bookshop**** (Booker Prize shortlist 1978)


Author note:
Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000) was an award winning English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. She wrote her first novel at the age of 59. The Blue Flower was her tenth book.

CymLowell

13 comments:

  1. Lovely review! The title is so beautiful too! Will add it to my 'TBR' list.

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  2. This was such a good review. It has me very interested (I love fictional books about real people) but it didn't give away too much.

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  3. Oh my gosh, I'm glad I didn't live back then! The thought of munching on a pig's ear or snout just turns my stomach! The book sounds enchanting!

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  4. Sounds like an interesting read. I've added you to my blog roll as well. Happy Reading!

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  5. Sounds really good Sandra! I always enjoy reading about what you've just read!

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  6. I've looked at this in the library and wondered. Clearly i need to pick it up. Thank you.

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  7. Oh wow I've had this in my TBR pile for a couple of years now and now I really want to read it! Great review!

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  8. Sandra, thanks so much for reviewing this book! It sounds really good, although very much not my mood at the moment, if that makes any sense. Have you read any of her other books? I've never read her, so I'm wondering if you think this one is a good place to start.

    Oh and speaking of pigs' ears, a friend of mine just recently told me he's started buying these for his dog (in Chinatown) and he's considering trying them himself. (I can't imagine trying such a thing, but then again I'm a vegetarian, so I would say that.) Boiling them in peppermint schnapps sounds particularly nasty though!

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  9. You have an award. :D Come and get it on my blog.

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  10. Sounds like a lovely book. Is she by any chance a relative of F. Scott Fitzgerald?

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  11. I am intrigued, very curious. I am putting this one on my tbr list.

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  12. Thanks for this great review and linking up to the party!

    -CYM

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  13. Nice review, Sandra! I like what the Blue Flower symbolizes.

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