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Innocence Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Length: 369 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

‘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

A delectable comedy of manners. "Boston Globe"
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.
"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 713 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G1TPT2I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Julian Barnes writes in the introduction to ‘Innocence’, the first of Penelope Fitzgerald’s four novels set in past times, this is a book that feels outside of fashion, even more now perhaps than when it was published given that even this year’s Booker Prize winner (refreshingly, perhaps) features drugs, Yardie gangs and a gay hitman.

Set in Florence in 1955, the novel revolves around a down-on-its-luck aristocratic family, the Ridolfis, and in particular the love affair between the reckless 18-year-old Chiara Ridolfi and Salvatore Rossi, a troubled, self-made doctor from a two-lire Southern town. There are no narcotics involved (though the couple do behave as if they are regularly toking on a crack pipe) and the only gun that appears in the story does not even go off. Instead we have an ironic, wonkily funny, tale of human misunderstandings. The Ridolfi family flaw is a ‘tendency to rash decisions…always intended to ensure other people’s happiness’ and the book demonstrates the often bad outcomes of good intentions (reminiscent of Stefan Zweig’s ‘Beware of Pity’).

This isn’t a feel-nice comedy of manners, however. Despite its now over-familiar Tuscan setting and the reader-friendly cast of bumbling aristocrats (Fitzgerald’s brilliant next book, ‘The Beginning of Spring’, has a more challenging cast and location), the novel is happy to suggest that misunderstanding and quarreling provide as sound a basis for human relationships as any other (at times, the deadpan absurdities, bickering, and the characters’ relentless scurrying about reminded me of Coen Brothers film). Italy’s Fascist past is not avoided and in one scene, the ten-year-old Salvatore is taken by his Communist father to visit the deformed, tubercular Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For some reason I thought this would be a 'difficult' read but it wasn't at all, a ripping yarn about a young girl growing up in Florence and her rather dysfunctional but loving family. It has a Jane Austenish feel to it, and humour as well, and is extremely readable.
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This seems to be the best of the five Fitzgeralds I've read. It is quirky,surprising and good on Italy. It refuses to be conventional but has its own loopy logic and the characters are genuinly engaging.Various plot strands resolve themselves-or do they? That ambiguity is one of the things that make this book likeable.
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Format: Paperback
this was my first Penelope Fitzgerald novel which I read when living in Italy - I loved it and have read it several times since. The prose is beautiful but heartachingly economic - there's so much more you want to know about these enigmatic characters and their lives. On the second and third readings the connections of the amazing plot became clearer and you discover the book is not what you really think it's about at all.
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Excellent . Not an easy read and I'm sure that I will have to read it again to obtain the full benefit of this novel. Julian Barnes book review was very helpful.
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I very much enjoy Ms. Fitzgerald's work, of the nine novels she wrote I have read 8, with The Booker Award winning work, "Offshore", remaining. Presuming those that bestowed the award were correct, and the other reviewers of "Innocence" are also correct, if I were to rank the 8 novels I have read, this is number 8, and is likely to be number 9 when, "Offshore", has been completed.

Ms. Fitzgerald often has left a book with the ending open, at times in an initially jarring manner. This is again the case with "Innocence", and the ending is not alone. This work is lengthy when compared to most of Ms. Fitzgerald's works, and its length allows for more of the wonderful characters she creates, and the usually odd circumstances they create, or are victimized by. In this case, with one exception, even when well done, I generally felt nothing or actively disliked the players.

The exception is Barney, one of the most unusual, colorful, and unconventional characters Ms. Fitzgerald has created. When a female is described when smiling, as having the perfect teeth for an Ogress you are reading about someone interesting. Barney is overwhelming in everything she does, there are no half measures, and the world of half tones is invisible to her. Snap decisions based upon a handshake suffice to sanction or condemn a marriage, choose a mate, and serve as a basis for her turning her life 180 degrees in less than a moment.

There is one other prominent player in the book, and he is the Doctor. However, he is as annoying as he is prominent, and there is nothing entertaining or clever about him.
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Your honour, here follows a bit of a winding argument, but bear with me, because I do have a point.
What I wanted to say is: Isn't it annoying when you don't like a book or film, and are then met with the superior comment "it's just that you didn't get it"? As though not understanding something is the only reason for not liking it. That happened to me with the film "Closer", for example, or the play "Miss Julie." It makes me want to shout: "No, I do get it, I'm not an idiot, but I still thought that they were bad."
And then we've got the book "Innocence" by Penelope Fitzgerald. No, I didn't particularly like it. And this time, oddly enough, I'm sure that's because I didn't get it. This is definitely not a bad book, it's probably even very good. Fitzgerald has got an effortless, pared-down style and captures emotions and people in a sentence or two. Her humour is wry and understated, her observations somewhere between razor-sharp and compassionate. There's something of Muriel Sparks over her, but then again, she's completely different...
And still I didn't get it. There are long passages discussing art and thingamejigs that I for the life of me couldn't see the point in including. There are scenes which seem totally disconnected with the rest of the text, but that I'm sure are comic little masterpieces - but the only way I would laugh while I read them would be to tickle myself with a swan feather. Or something. Only when the very lovely Barney were around did I chuckle contentedly.
Really, this is a baffling and original book - I haven't felt this weirded out since I was a kid and tried to read James Joyce (yeah I was a bit strange). Maybe I should come back to it in ten years time, when I'm older an wiser.
Bet this makes you curious to read it and see for yourself... please do, ya clever people out there, and come back and tell me what it was all about. Though I suspect all you'll do is shake your heads regretfully and say "you just don't get it".
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