Very interesting short stories with fascinating characters. Fitzgerald was an author I had not read before and was suggested to me by an avid fan. I chose this book as a 'taster' so to speak and now intend to read more of her work. Give her a try and you will be well rewarded.
Penelope Fitzgerald didn't start to write until she was sixty. These short stories show what an incredibly original writer she was, with a totally unique style. The starling in "Our Lives are Only Lent to us" had me crying with laughter, several, including "At Hiruharma", have a wonderful twist at the end, and "The Axe" is as creepy as you like. Fitzgerald has the most wonderful turn of phrase and paints a picture with words: "Pigeons..still shifting about and conferring quietly in their wicker basket." I could read stories like these for ever
Ms. Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the greatest new authors that became known to me over the last year. While I have read all of her novels, I have read only one of her three non-fiction works. I have commented on all, and with one exception I wish she had started writing about 4 decades sooner than she did.
Her novels all had several common denominators, their quality, the scope contained in the length she used, and their length, or more accurately their lack of length. So when I encountered this book that offered 8 stories over a diminutive 117 pages, even as great an admirer as I was incredulous.
The 8 stories are not equal, some are extremely clever, and one or two seemed more like thoughts that were abruptly cut off. Some of her novels ended with the finality of a guillotine crashing down; however this was after a good bit of reading had been done. When the stories average out at 14 small pages each, the word abrupt is too tame. Two stories in particular stood out, "Desderatus" and "The Axe". Of these two one showed a side of this woman's writing I never expected. Stephen King easily could have placed "The Axe", in a collection of his short stories, and it would have fit beautifully. Had this woman made the decision she may have been a writer that brought us classics in the Genre of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula". Lights definitely go on and stay for, "The Axe".
This is not a five star work by this wonderful author. However I rate it as such for all the great writing she shared in her all too brief career. Taken as a whole this is probably a 3.5 to 4 star work. I miss the lady's exercising of her craft too much not to give the work 5 stars. Think of it as a thank you for all she gave readers.