Human Voices Paperback – 30 Jan 2014
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‘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
‘Of all the novelists of the last quarter-century, she has the most unarguable claim on greatness. [It has been] a career we, as readers, can only count ourselves lucky to have lived through.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator
‘One of the pleasures of reading Penelope Fitzgerald is the unpredictability of her intelligence, which never loses its quality, but springs constant surprises, and if you make the mistake of reading her fast because she is so readable, you will miss some of the best jokes. This is a very funny novel.’ The Times
‘Comic, and sometimes extraordinarily sad.’ A.S. Byatt, TLS
From the Publisher
From the reviews of Human Voices
"One of the pleasures of reading Penelope Fitzgerald is the unpredicatability of her intelligence, which never loses its quality but springs constant surprises, and if you make the mistake of reading her fast because she is so readable, you will miss some of her best jokes. I wish it were longer...for it is certainly a very funny novel about the BBC, and that in itself is an occasion for joy." Michael Ratcliffe, The Times
"A delightfully whimsical account of life in Portland Place during the London blitz...there are some very funny incidents and passages, and delicious insights into the quirkiness of human behaviour under stress." Nina Bawden, Daily Telegraph
"It is hard to describe the peculiar quality of Penelope Fitzgerald's gift. Human Voices is comic, and sometimes extraordinarily sad... I enjoyed it very much." A.S.Byatt, TLS
"Made me laugh out loud as I have hardly done since Cold Comfort Farm. Brilliantly funny." Marghanita Laski, Country LifeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book ended with a great bang like many of her works, but this time we are not left wondering if the book we are holding is a few pages short. There still is more to unfold for some central characters, but this time the reader decides whether or not to pursue a continuance.
The TRUTH is the mission the BBC is on. To broadcast this and nothing else, not even speeches by the King that have been mended to delete his stutter. However in one of the funniest passages of the book, a French general feels compelled to share the "truth" with England and the English he so loves. Fortunately for both country and citizens alike, and to the amusement of the PM, he had the plugs pulled upon him.
Since Ms. Fitzgerald did work at the BBC, it offers an additional avenue for thought. Simply stated, how much is true, how many of these people actually lived, and how much was pure fiction. It is a tribute to her writing that the reader is unsure. By writing as she has, whether in a complimentary manner, or unflattering, I doubt some of the subjects would recognize themselves.
Another novel, without repetition, that demonstrates the vast skill this woman commanded.
She treats her characters very kindly based on the values of society at the time. And it is those values which I found to be the most interesting element of this novel - 1940 really isn't a long time ago but attitudes to women and class are so blatent that this story feels as though it were set hundreds of years ago.
There is a light comedic tone to the whole book which, I think, is where it fails. If the comedy is believed then the characters become pitiful and that seems a shame of such well meaning people. I really felt the characters were real people but I felt sorry for them all which I don't think is what the author was trying to achieve. It's OK to mock the BBC as an organisation but I don't think it's fair to mock the individuals within it.
I suspect that some of my reservations are due to the old fashioned feel. Some readers will love the nostalgia but it wasn't for me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought as a present for my wife who has not had it yet, but Im sure she will love itPublished 5 months ago by kennymid
Interesting and informative novel about the BBC during the Second World War.Published 6 months ago by Annabeldevon
This is a brilliant murder mystery written by an equally brilliant author who put Agatha Christie and others completely into the background of all the great writers.Published 13 months ago by R.J.ATTERWILL
I have only recently discovered the joys of reading Penelope Fitzgerald and I have enjoyed everything I have read so far.Published 15 months ago by HK