‘Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality – the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.’ Sebastian Faulks
‘Wise and ironic, funny and humane, Fitzgerald is a wonderful, wonderful writer.’ David Nicholls
‘Penelope Fitzgerald’s Innocence seems to me to be about real people undergoing real experiences, more real and more interesting than most biographies, and it carries absolute conviction as to time and place. What more could one ask of a novel?’ Spectator Books of the Year
‘Innocence weilds a curious fascination, replete with the sense of sleepy, slightly anxious fatalism that pervades much of the Italian cinema of the period. Its magic, and its message, are as oblique and inconclusive as the lives of its characters, but both have a lingering power, refreshingly fictive, deliciously un-English.’ Literary Review
‘I know of no one who expresses so deftly and entertainingly the way in which life seldom turns out as expected. A wonderful book.’ Spectator
‘This is by far the fullest and richest of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novels, and also the most ambitious. Her writing, as ever, has a natural authority, is very funny, warm and gently ironic, and full of tenderness towards human beings and their bravery in living.’ TLS
From the Back Cover
The Ridolfi are a Florentine family of long lineage and little money. It is 1955, Italy is still struggling back after the war, and the family, like its decrepit villa and farm, has seen better days. Among the Ridolfi, only eighteen-year-old Chiara shows anything like vitality. But it s a vitality matched by innocence a dangerous combination, to herself and to all who love her.
Chiara sets her heart on the bull-headed Salvatore, a brilliant young doctor from the south who resolved long ago to be emotionally dependent on no one. Stymied, she calls on her resourceful English girlfriend, Barney, to help her make the impossible match. And so ensues a comedy of errors, in which guileless lovers, with the best of intentions, considerable charm, and the kindest of instincts, succeed in making one another thoroughly and astonishingly miserable.
An exquisite mosaic, where every tiny piece is part of a world. A. S. Byatt, "Threepenny Review"
PENELOPE FITZGERALD (1916 2000) was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. She won the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction for The Blue Flower, the Booker Prize for Offshore, and three of her novels The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels, and The Beginning of Spring were short-listed for the Booker Prize.