The Beginning of Spring

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Man Booker Prize Finalist: This “marvelous novel” about an abandoned husband, set in Moscow a century ago, is “bristling with wry comedy” (Newsday).

March 1913. Moscow is stirring herself to meet the beginning of spring. English painter Frank Reid returns from work one night to find that his wife has gone away; no one knows where or why, or whether she’ll ever come back. All Frank knows for sure is that he is now alone and must find someone to care for his three young children.
 
Into Frank’s life comes Lisa Ivanovna, a quiet, calming beauty from the country, untroubled to the point of seeming simple. But is she? And why has Frank’s bookkeeper, Selwyn Crane, gone to such lengths to bring these two together?
 
From a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, this novel, with a new introduction by Andrew Miller, author of Pure, is filled with “writing so precise and lilting it can make you shiver” (Los Angeles Times).
 
“Fitzgerald was the author of several slim, perfect novels. The Blue Flower and The Beginning of Spring both had me abuzz for days the first time I read them. She was curiously perfect.” —Teju Cole, author of Open City
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About the author

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. More than three hundred thousand copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain’s Man Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her sixties, her works have been praised as “the best argument . . . for a publishing debut made late in life.” She told the New York Times Magazine, “In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life.” Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, “I have remained true to my deepest convictions. I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy—for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?” (The New York Times Book Review).
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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Sep 3, 1998
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9780547524795
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Family Life / Marriage & Divorce
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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From the author of The Last Summer and The Memory of Lost Senses comes a "gripping tale of family secrets and a comedy of manners" (Renee Rosen, author of What the Lady Wants) that historical fiction fans will love. 
 
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Christmas 1926 holds bright promise for nineteen-year-old Daisy Forbes, with celebrations under way at Eden Hall, her family's country estate in Surrey, England. But when Daisy, the youngest of three daughters, discovers that her adored father, Howard, has been leading a double life, her illusions of perfection are shattered. Worse, his current mistress, introduced as a family friend, is joining them for the holidays. As Daisy wrestles with the truth, she blossoms in her own right, receiving a marriage proposal from one man, a declaration of love from another, and her first kiss from a third. Meanwhile, her mother, Mabel, manages these social complications with outward calm, while privately reviewing her life and contemplating significant changes. And among those below stairs, Nancy, the housekeeper, and Mrs. Jessops, the cook, find that their long-held secrets are slowly beginning to surface...

As the seasons unfold in the new year, and Daisy moves to London, desires, fortunes, and loyalties will shift during this tumultuous time after the Great War. The Forbes family and those who serve them will follow their hearts down unexpected paths that always return to where they began...Eden Hall.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

“Part love story, part history, this novel is a tour de force [told] in language that soars and sears.”—More
 
St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, and to distract the prince from the pain she cannot heal, Masha tells him stories—some embellished and others entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s exploits, and their wild and wonderful country, now on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.
 
Praise for Enchantments

“A sumptuous, atmospheric account of the last days of the Romanovs from the perspective of Rasputin’s daughter, [told] with the sensuous, transporting prose that is Kathryn Harrison’s trademark.”—Jennifer Egan
 
“[A] splendid and surprising book . . . Harrison has given us something enduring.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Harrison delivers] this oft-told moment with shocking freshness. . . . Masha re-invents our ideas of Rasputin, and the world of Nicholas and Alexandra is imbued with a glow whose fierceness is governed by the imminence of its loss.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“A mesmerizing novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Bewitching . . . Harrison sets historic facts like jewels in this intricately fashioned work of exalted empathy and imagination, a literary Fabergé egg. . . . [A] dazzling return to historical fiction.”—Booklist (starred review)

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ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’ S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A Best Book of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times
Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

The acclaimed biographer of Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf gives us an intimate portrait of one of the most quietly brilliant novelists of the twentieth century.

Penelope Fitzgerald was a great English writer whose career didn't begin until she was nearly sixty. She would go on to win some of the most coveted awards in literature—the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Now, in an impeccable match of talent between biographer and subject, Hermione Lee, a master biographer and one of Fitzgerald's greatest champions, gives us this remarkable writer’s story. Lee’s critical expertise is on dazzling display on every page, as it illuminates this extraordinary English life. Fitzgerald, born into an accomplished intellectual family, the granddaughter of two bishops, led a life marked by dramatic twists of fate, moving from a bishop’s palace to a sinking houseboat to a last, late blaze of renown. We see Fitzgerald’s very English childhood in the village of Hampstead; her Oxford years, when she was known as the “blonde bombshell”; her impoverished adulthood as a struggling wife, mother and schoolteacher, raising a family in difficult circumstances; and the long-delayed start to her literary career.

Fitzgerald’s early novels draw on her own experiences—working at the BBC in wartime, at a bookshop in Suffolk, at an eccentric stage school in the 1960s—while her later books open out into historical worlds that she, magically, seems to entirely possess: Russia before the Revolution, postwar Italy, Germany in the time of the Romantic writer Novalis. Fitzgerald’s novels are short, spare masterpieces, and Hermione Lee unfurls them here as works of genius. Expertly researched, written out of love and admiration for this wonderful author’s work, Penelope Fitzgerald is literary biography at its finest—an unforgettable story of lateness, persistence and survival.
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