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Mama knows best My mother s been on Ms Fitzgerald for a while now and I had yet to jump on the bandwagonuntil last night I should have known her choices are always golden She reads incessently and with taste I always thought she should eventually do a PhD in English Literature or perhaps pull a Fitzgerald and start her writing career at the age of 60 Anyways, she s the only one whose recommendations actually I take to heart I think she got her love of books from my grandfather He ne Mama knows best My mother s been on Ms Fitzgerald for a while now and I had yet to jump on the bandwagonuntil last night I should have known her choices are always golden She reads incessently and with taste I always thought she should eventually do a PhD in English Literature or perhaps pull a Fitzgerald and start her writing career at the age of 60 Anyways, she s the only one whose recommendations actually I take to heart I think she got her love of books from my grandfather He never finished High School, but has always been an avid reader and is able to discern a quality read when he randomly comes across one He has horrible eyesight now, at the age of 93, and can only read large print books He sifts through thrillers and New York Times bestsellers and the like to stumble upon gems like MFK Fischer and Alice Munro About two weeks ago he was talking to my mother about the great little book he was currently reading a book, not really a novel, but a string of stories, by this womanummmAlice something or otherAlice Munro Jini do you know Alice Munro He knows a good book when he reads one And he was the person that introduced my entire family to the lovely books of MFK Fischer He s a surprising man, that grandfather of mine I sadly only have a couple of the wonderful Penelope Fitzgerald s novels left to read, and a few of her non fiction books I purchased Innocence 1986 several months ago, but chose to leave it on my to read shelf as a special treat to snuggle down with, rather than immediately rushing into it and then having to wait an age to find her outstanding titles I was moderately disappointed by Fitzgerald s Booker Prize winning Offshore, but have very much enjoyed the rest of her books to date.A.S Bya I sadly only have a couple of the wonderful Penelope Fitzgerald s novels left to read, and a few of her non fiction books I purchased Innocence 1986 several months ago, but chose to leave it on my to read shelf as a special treat to snuggle down with, rather than immediately rushing into it and then having to wait an age to find her outstanding titles I was moderately disappointed by Fitzgerald s Booker Prize winning Offshore, but have very much enjoyed the rest of her books to date.A.S Byatt calls Innocence exquisite , and The Guardian deems it Delightful a bubbling and beautiful book The novel begins in 1955 in Florence, and follows the once moneyed Ridolfi family who, like its decrepit villa and farm, has seen better days The character whom Fitzgerald has placed most focus upon is the eighteen year old Ridolfi daughter, Chiara Her vitality is matched by innocence a dangerous combination Chiara has fallen head over heels for Salvatore Rossi, a young doctor who resolved long ago to be emotionally dependent on no one Chiara, frustrated by her own progress in the matter, has to ask one of her English friends from the convent school which she attends to help her set them up And so, writes Fitzgerald, ensues a comedy of manners, in which lovers, with the best of intentions and the kindest of instincts, succeed in making one another astonishingly miserable Indeed, the novel feels Shakespearean in its scope, and in the witty asides made at times.Fitzgerald makes us aware of Chiara s limitations when at home Chiara Ridolfi was a beauty, but not thought beautiful in Florence Her American mother s family had once been Scottish, her looks were northern, her delicate high colouring was suited not to a fierce climate but to the mild damp and mist of the north Only the lids of her blue eyes were Florentine, round and languid her half eager, half diffident approach to whatever came along hadn t the ruthlessness of the ancient money making city which in its former days had questioned the bills of the world s greatest artists In this manner, Fitzgerald intertwines the history of the Ridolfi family, as well as the Florentine people, with the present day stories of Chiara and her father, Giancarlo.Fitzgerald is highly informed about Italian culture, and the differences between separate regions this knowledge translates marvellously to the page, and makes each setting all thevivid There is also a focus upon the minutiae of life, and the use of colour and sense are particularly striking throughout Fabric comes in shades of tender grey , the sky is a darkish olive green , and the air is damp and caressing Of the Ricordanza, the secluded house in which the Ridolfis live, Fitzgerald writes The ground floor was used for storage and was lit only by two round windows This raising up of the front door made the whole house look unwelcoming and inaccessible The lemon trees in their terracotta jars, each balanced on an empty one turned upside down, dispensed their bitter green smell their dark green leaves were startlingly fresh against the blank, bleached, cracked and faded house As with her other novels, I found Innocence both shrewd and immersive Fitzgerald s writing is as finely crafted as it is highly distinctive there is a playful sharpness to it Full of wisdom, humour, and measured reasoning, Innocenceis a wonderfully mesmeric read F is for FitzgeraldThis novel was horrible And I thought maybe it was a case of it s not you, its me But no It s the book It s definitely the book Not my cuppa at all, and honestly, I can t think of a single friend of mine who would like the book either.I have no idea how to even write a review for this because I can t even say what it s about The characters were completely one dimensional, the writing was seriously odd and alienating, and I didn t understand anything about it At first F is for FitzgeraldThis novel was horrible And I thought maybe it was a case of it s not you, its me But no It s the book It s definitely the book Not my cuppa at all, and honestly, I can t think of a single friend of mine who would like the book either.I have no idea how to even write a review for this because I can t even say what it s about The characters were completely one dimensional, the writing was seriously odd and alienating, and I didn t understand anything about it At first it reminded me of Jane Austen set in post WWII Florence, but Jane s novels were full of wit and satire and lovely characters whose love unfolded slowly and perfectly These characters and their stories were just a big hot mess And not in a good way.The main focus of the book was the Ridolfi family, a noble family with a beautifully large estate and vineyard but who had no money The 18 year old Ridolfi daughter Chiara met a doctor 12 years her senior at a party, and the two of them fell into the worst case of instalove I ve ever seen Particularly because they aren t in love I have absolutely no idea why they are in love, why they are together, what they see in each other, or anything else because I couldn t tell you a single thing about them other than they think they are in love with each other Well, spoiler alert, they get married and make each other evenmiserable Basically they fight all the time and then they have sex Things happen I don t know what else to say I don t think I ve ever read aboring book in my life It was only 224 pages and it took me three friggin weeks to readOf course, Salvatore couldn t practice as a neurologist without being, for the most part, calm and sensible, it was just that until today she hadn t had any experience of it Now she had a problem, as it hadn t occurred to her that she could love him anythan she did, but to take in this new aspect of him her love would have to expand, and show that it had expanded WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN Some chapters are 10 pages, some are 5 sentences I had no idea how or why the book was organized this way There was also a Part 1 and Part 2 but Part 2 picked up exactly where Part 1 left off and nothing happened differently The passages were oddThey walked together for a little, arm in arm They were talking about tier bowel movements Loyalty from that quarter was the one thing necessary, said Ricasoli, for absolute peace of mind This book has been called a comedy of errors or a comedy of manners but there was absolutely no comedy in sight The only redeeming qualities were the sparse but beautiful descriptions of the Italian countryside, and the few and too far between mentions of delicious sounding Italian food That s it I hated this author s writing style with a passion It tried way too hard to be clever and witty, but what it did was make it absolutely impossible to understand what was going on When the two main characters got engaged, I totally missed it It wasn t until 10 or so pages after it happened that I even realized it did And then, I re read those pages to see what I had missed and still couldn t find the passage where they get engaged WTF I very very very nearly made an exception to my never DNF rule for this one because I just didn t care Blah Blah Blah Thank you book for putting me off reading I will never read anything else by this author And the ending Seriously I don t even know what happened It s like the author died in the middle of a chapter and just stopped writing But ultimately, This is the first novel by Penelope Fitzgerald I have read, but I m sure that it won t be the last She s quite distinctive and appealing, even on this slight acquaintance wry, ironic, light of touch, capable of the unexpected, refreshingly prepared to leave ends untied One odd thing about reading Fitzgerald is that her writing has a built in sense of anachronism if this novel is anything to go by She was born in 1916, hardlythan a decade after writers like Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitf This is the first novel by Penelope Fitzgerald I have read, but I m sure that it won t be the last She s quite distinctive and appealing, even on this slight acquaintance wry, ironic, light of touch, capable of the unexpected, refreshingly prepared to leave ends untied One odd thing about reading Fitzgerald is that her writing has a built in sense of anachronism if this novel is anything to go by She was born in 1916, hardlythan a decade after writers like Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford, with both of whom her style and tone has some affinities yet she started writing famously late, in the mid to late 1970s, when she was in her early 60s Her first novel, The Golden Child, was published in 1977, a year before Ian McEwan s The Cement Garden, yet she reads like someone from a completely different age Innocence is set in the 1950s in Florence and it captures an interesting moment in the twentieth century history of Italy The treatment of Italy s communist legacy and what it might mean in the country s uneasy post war settlement is especially well handled It is given emotional depth through a remembered episode, set twenty years before the main time frame of the novel, in which one of the main characters is taken by his father to visit Antonio Gramsci in a high security hospital at the very end of his life, in a state of advanced physical decay due to the effects of tuberculosis, almost rotting away while still alive This is a scene of great power, both poignant and disturbing, posited quite believably as a defining episode in a ten year old boy s life.There s a lot that rings true in Fitzgerald s picture of Florence in these years Most of the main characters are from a down on its luck Florentine aristocratic family, the Ridolfi, but the social range of the cast list is broader than I initially feared it was going to be We spend a fair amount of time with two upwardly mobile doctors, immigrants from the South, one the boy of the Gramsci visit There are glimpses, as well, of hapless British ex pats trying to live the Tuscan dream, a seamstress in her one room apartment, and the workshop of a grand, wizened old couturier modeled on Fortuny, according to Hermione Lee Throughout, there is a species of tragicomic chorus constituted by reported gossip and public opinion Nothing happens within families or to individuals without it being widely and disapprovingly commented on by society This is very old school Italian and very well observed, as are Florentine reactions to the female protagonist s hearty, forthright English convent school friend Barney, as remote from 1950s Italian ideals of femininity as a yak People constantly refer to Barney in the novel as a giantess, a nice formal echo of the perverse tale of a seventeenth century female dwarf ancestress of the Ridolfi we hear about in a prefatory episode and that makes various ironic returns in the course of the narrative Details like this lend a certain playfulness to Fitzgerald s novel It s a brisk and pleasurable read on the surface, though with sudden and quite vertiginous depths A surprisingly very Italian novel that had me wondering where it was going right to the last page Ms Fitzgerald has a knack for creating flawed but, for the most part, endearing main characters in her work In Innocence this applies to just about all of the secondary characters as well In fact, as the novel progressed I grew to embrace most of these secondary characters who with their faults, eccentricities and intentions added warmth and humor to the story Recommended for fans of Ms Fitz A surprisingly very Italian novel that had me wondering where it was going right to the last page Ms Fitzgerald has a knack for creating flawed but, for the most part, endearing main characters in her work In Innocence this applies to just about all of the secondary characters as well In fact, as the novel progressed I grew to embrace most of these secondary characters who with their faults, eccentricities and intentions added warmth and humor to the story Recommended for fans of Ms Fitzgerald, although I would not recommend it as an introduction to this author I would suggest either The Bookshop or Offshore to readers who want to give her a try There may be moments when you ll be tired I mean the kind of tired you get in a museum filled with masterpieces, and it s been five hours already and your feet hurt, as does that place in the small of your back, and you start thinking, Oh, no, not Judith with the head of Holofernes again You may also be afflicted, when you re reading the middle third of this book, with the kind of tired you feel when you re reading Tolstoy and you can t remember 8 out of ten characters in all their particula There may be moments when you ll be tired I mean the kind of tired you get in a museum filled with masterpieces, and it s been five hours already and your feet hurt, as does that place in the small of your back, and you start thinking, Oh, no, not Judith with the head of Holofernes again You may also be afflicted, when you re reading the middle third of this book, with the kind of tired you feel when you re reading Tolstoy and you can t remember 8 out of ten characters in all their particulars what they did in the last scene, to whom they are related, whether the nickname is in any way derived from all the other names and titles this character has been given elsewhere in the book, and is it possible that maybe you re not smart enough to read this book you may wonder not least because you don t speak the language or belong to the country that provided the names and social customs of the characters But if you feel that kind of fatigue and doubt, I urge you to read on It all comes together in the last third with an air of magisterial completeness such as you might see in a huge and complicated cathedral It s a thing of mysterious beauty, this book, a painting you could study again and again and still find something that makes you want to sit gratefully down on the bench, that padded one in the center of the gallery, and lose yourself in contemplation and awe I told her almost everything about myself Marriage is like the second stage of drunkenness in that respect There was something really charmingly elusive about this novel, which resists being either one thing or another, and yet is at heart an old fashioned romance with a lovely Italian feel and setting, full of great, distinct characters It also felt playfully modern and even experimental at times, and in its slow, rambling way i found it delightful, funny and quietly subversive. I ve still not ultimately decided whether to award Innocence a three star Good rating or a four star Great rating On the plus side, I did enjoy the writing style and there are many instances of dry witty humour that got me smiling Fitzgerald s characters are unusually direct with each other, often to the point of downright rudeness, and they behave in unexpected ways I particularly liked Barney, Cousin Cesare and Aunt Mad who both have strongly drawn mannerisms, but I was less appreciative of I ve still not ultimately decided whether to award Innocence a three star Good rating or a four star Great rating On the plus side, I did enjoy the writing style and there are many instances of dry witty humour that got me smiling Fitzgerald s characters are unusually direct with each other, often to the point of downright rudeness, and they behave in unexpected ways I particularly liked Barney, Cousin Cesare and Aunt Mad who both have strongly drawn mannerisms, but I was less appreciative of the two leads, Chiara and Dr Rossi, who were vague by comparison I think I got a good sense of the Florentine residences and Valsassina from Fitzgerald s inspired descriptions.However, I definitely did not like that the novel simply stops instead of having an ending It is almost as though the publisher has missed off the final chapter Several of the story directions are almost as frustrating The writing does not dwell at all on its characters emotions so I often found it difficult to understand why they followed certain paths Their lack of social convention explains some instances but others remain baffling and I still have no idea what Chiara and Rossi actually saw in each other.Innocence was recommended to me by a friend who lent me her copy of the book I am looking forward to discussing the work with her now that we have both finished reading it Hmmm SIZE or SIZING MATTERS This was a peculiar reading I was immediately and engagingly drawn in But how could I not be, an art buff, given that it starts in the Florence of the 16C in the fictional villa La Ricordanza, but with a direct reference to a non fictional villa, the Valmarana ai Nani in the vicinity of Vicenza, and which still looms in my memories with all its pastel coloured frescoes The house of dwarfs.Sizes in the Ricordanza have somewhat increased, and distortions smoothed ou SIZE or SIZING MATTERS This was a peculiar reading I was immediately and engagingly drawn in But how could I not be, an art buff, given that it starts in the Florence of the 16C in the fictional villa La Ricordanza, but with a direct reference to a non fictional villa, the Valmarana ai Nani in the vicinity of Vicenza, and which still looms in my memories with all its pastel coloured frescoes The house of dwarfs.Sizes in the Ricordanza have somewhat increased, and distortions smoothed out, since the family who lived in the Florentine villa, we are explained, was one of midgets Midgets, in difference to dwarfs, are smaller than standard but keep proportions regular After such an engaging but unexpectedly cruel beginning the novel jumps to the Florence of the 1950s, and the plot develops when the midgets have gained their full size along their centuries And this it does under the shadow of Antonio Gramsci s ghost in the grey tones of an old film My reading then lapsed into a different beat, since neither the story nor the characters captivated me as much as my memories of a villa peopled by Tiepolo s figures But there was a pulling drive and it came from the writing style With a tongue in cheek tone, well suited to her young assertive and defiant characters, Fitzgerald expands her theme of the inevitably decaying nobility amongst inevitably decaying communism and the dangers of a state of innocence When good intentions amputate unwanted reality to fit them into our dreams or set of prejudiced conventions, innocence will no longer appear rosy but take on the shrill tone of calamity.Innocence sized to its corresponding dimensions.Humour nonetheless is also there The comparisons between the Italian and English worlds are amusing If it is innate to the English not to fudge around with the making of tea, it is for the Italians to know the difference, without blinking, between a Botticelli and a Pietro di Cortona.This edition came with an excellent Preface by Hermione Lee, Fitzgerald s biographer, setting her up in context, and a brilliant Introduction by Julian Barnes Don t miss these `DOWNLOAD PDF ☚ Innocence ↜ Stunning modern new cover reissue of one of Penelope Fitzgerald s best loved novelsInnocence is set in the s, when Italy was picking up the pieces after the war Chiara Ridolfi is the guileless daughter of a decrepit Italian family Barney is her practical English girlfriend, who can sum up a man, she says, in one firm hand grip Salvatore is a penniless doctor from the south, who thinks he is proof against politics, social conscience and tenderness Chiara s cousin, Cesare, says very little, which gives him time to think