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 / General
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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Just out: Anne Tyler's heartwarming new novel, Clock Dance

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PEOPLE AND USA TODAY | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • Chicago Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Telegraph • BookPage

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . . . ” This is how Abby Whitshank always describes the day she fell in love with Red in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate an indefinable kind of specialness, but like all families, their stories reveal only part of the picture: Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s parents, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to the grandchildren carrying the Whitshank legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn house that has always been their anchor.

Praise for A Spool of Blue Thread

“An act of literary enchantment . . . [Anne] Tyler remains among the best chroniclers of family life this country has ever produced.”—The Washington Post

“Quintessential Anne Tyler, as well as quintessential American comedy . . . [She] has a knack for turning sitcom situations into something far deeper and more moving.”—The New York Times Book Review

“By my count I’ve now reviewed around fifty books for USA Today. I’ve never given any of them four stars until today: to A Spool of Blue Thread, the masterful twentieth novel by Anne Tyler.”—USA Today

“By the end of this deeply beguiling novel, we come to know a reality entirely different from the one at the start.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Well-crafted, utterly absorbing and compelling . . . probably the best novel you will read all year.”—Chicago Tribune

“A miracle of sorts . . . tender, touching and funny . . . [an] understated masterpiece.”—Associated Press

“Exploring [the] dichotomy—the imperfections that reside within a polished exterior—is Tyler’s specialty, and her latest generation-spanning work accomplishes just that, masterfully and monumentally.”—Elle

“The story of any family is told through the prism of time. And no storyteller compares to Tyler when it comes to unspooling those tales.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Vintage Anne Tyler . . . [The Whitshanks are] rendered with such immediacy and texture that they might be our next-door neighbors.”—Los Angeles Times

“The magic of Tyler’s novels [is that] you imagine these characters carrying on, muddling through, enduring the necessary sorrows and quiet joys of their lives somewhere beyond the page.”—The Seattle Times

“The sort of novel that’s hard to disentangle yourself from. Warm, charming and emotionally radiant, it surely must be counted as among Tyler’s best.”—The Miami Herald

“Prose so polished it practically glows on the page.”—Houston Chronicle
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.


From the Hardcover edition.
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