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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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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. :-)
2 of 3 people found this review helpful