Penelope Fitzgerald, who died in 2000, emerged late in life as one of the most remarkable English writers of the last century. The three novels in this volume all display her characteristic wit, intellectual breadth and narrative brilliance, applied to the different traditional forms into which she breathed new life. The Bookshop is a contemporary comedy of manners, set in a provincial town. InThe Gate of Angels romance is combined with the novel of ideas; while The Blue Flower revitalizes historical drama in a study of the eighteenth-century German writer Novalis. Fitzgerald being the genius of the relevant detail and the deftly sketched conceptual context, each book conjures up a different world in a few vivid pages which remain etched on the memory.
Levi was imprisoned in Auschwitz from March 1944 to January 1945. Of the 650 Jews who entered the camp with him, 525 went to the gas chamber. He survived, and here describes his experience during those ten months. He explains the writing of this book as a need felt by all the survivors; 'the need to tell our story to 'the rest', to make the rest participate in it; the book has been written to satisfy this need: first and foremost, therefore, as an interior liberation.' He writes simply, elegantly, precisely about his experience. It is utterly matter-of-fact - not a hint of sensation, self-indulgence, or self pity. And the effect upon the reader is exactly that which he sought for himself in telling the tale; an interior liberation. To look at the worst that man can do, and know that the best cannot be destroyed by it. Review by Jane Rogers, whose novels include 'Island' (Kirkus UK)