The human voices of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel are those of the BBC in the first years of the Second World War, the time when the Concert Hall was turned into a dormitory for both sexes, the whole building became a target for enemy bombers, and in the BBC - as elsewhere - some had to fail and some had to die. It does not pretend to be an accurate history of Broadcasting House in those years, but ‘one is left with the sensation,’ as William Boyd said, reviewing it in the London Magazine, ‘that this is what it was really like.
About the Author
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the 'Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.
'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