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Publisher's Summary

It is 1912, and at Cambridge University the modern age is knocking at the gate. In lecture halls and laboratories, the model of a universe governed by the Mind of God is at last giving way to something wholly rational, a universe governed by the Laws of Physics. To Fred Fairly, a junior fellow at the College of St. Angelicus, this comes as a great comfort. Science, he is certain, will soon explain everything. Mystery will be routed by reason, and the demands of the soul will be seen for what they are: a distraction and an illusion.Into Fred's orderly life comes Daisy, with a bang, literally. One moment the two are perfect strangers, fellow cyclists on a dark country road; the next, they are casualties of a freakish accident, occupants of the same warm bed. Fred has never been so close to a woman before, and none so pretty, so plainspoken, and yet so, mysterious. Is she a manifestation of chaos, or is she a sign of another kind of order?
As the smitten Fred pursues these questions, Penelope Fitzgerald suggests that scientists can still be mistaken and that the soul must still be answered, even in this age of the atom.
©1990 Penelope Fitzgerald; (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

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By Will on 04-18-06

quiet brilliance

Nobody conveys the ordinary sense of life within a time like Penelope Fitzgerald. Here, her characters balance on the cusp of scientific and religious thought before the First World War, trying to reconcile the atom and the existence or non-existence of God; or, in the case of Daisy, getting on with it and carving a place for her own fierce physical presence in a dry, intellectual, uninvolved world.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By ebb on 06-17-07

Disjointed

I really wanted to like this. Fred's story, in Cambridge, is full of charm, sensitivity, and an appreciation of the sheer intellectual excitement of early 20th C. physics-- frustratingly just beyond the reach of a very junior don. Fred is earnest, hopeful, and eager to embrace life, which he finds full of unexpected challenges.

Daisy's story, on the other hand, falls flat. She's an unappealing character with a predictable life, and she faces her own challenges (poverty, class and gender inequality, no education) with absolutely nothing that surprised, informed, or enriched my own life. Bah! What a dud.

Fred's charming (and better-written) half of the story rates a 4, but wasn't enough to salvage the other half for me. I'll average them out to a 3. The narration was good. Don't expect too much of or be initmidated by the references to physics-- they're all fairly vague and innocuous, more of an atmospheric touch than anything else. Chaos theory, of course, is anachronistic for early 20th C. :-)

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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