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Shortlisted for the Booker Prize: A novel of two “wonderful characters” who meet by accident in Edwardian England, and fall inconveniently in love (The Washington Post).
In 1912, rational scientist Fred Fairly, one of Cambridge’s best and brightest, crashes his bike and wakes up in bed with a stranger—fellow casualty Daisy Saunders, a charming, pretty, and almost pathologically generous working-class nurse. So begins a series of complications—not only of the heart but also of the head—as Fred and Daisy take up each other’s education and turn each other’s philosophies upside down.
From the recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award, among other honors, this story of an unlikely and possibly doomed romance is a “deft comedy of manners . . . Fitzgerald’s elegant prose shines with intelligence and subtle wit . . . Her flair for well-drawn eccentric characters will appeal to fans of Muriel Spark and Barbara Pym” (Library Journal).
“A singular accomplishment.” —Boston Globe
“Powerfully bewitching.” —Los Angeles Times
English writer Fitzgerald ( The Beginning of Spring ; Innocence ) displays a grace and wit that put her on equal footing with such better-known peers as Muriel Spark. Her own novel, shortlisted for the 1990 Booker prize, is set in the mannered quaintness of pre-WW I Cambridge, yet it goes far beyond the usual Wodehousean scenario of brittle dialogue and eccentric dons in flapping robes. The eccentric dons are by no means absent, but Fitzgerald's writing has a depth, resonance and delicacy that create a sense of genuine comedy rather than of farce. Fred Fairly, a junior fellow at St. Angelicus College, wakes from a bicycle accident to discover that, owing to the misjudgment of a good Samaritan, he has been put in a sickroom bed next to the young woman with whom he has collided. Having made the acquaintance of mysterious Daisy Saunders in this unlikely way, Fairly promptly falls in love with her, though as a St. Angelicus fellow he has pledged himself to a life of celibacy. One can count on Fitzgerald to resolve his dilemma in an unexpected fashion, and she is true to form as the novel swerves toward its satisfying conclusion.