A House of Air: Selected Writings by Penelope Fitzgerald - review by Robert Chandler

Robert Chandler

Giving Voice

A House of Air: Selected Writings


Flamingo 552pp £20 order from our bookshop

Of all the novelists of the last fifty years, there is no one I more regret not having met than Penelope Fitzgerald. Thls volume, a collection of eighty-four separate pieces (reviews, lectures, and introductions to a number of mostly minor classics), has both intensified my regret and provided some compensation. Reading it has been like having a series of brief conversations with the author. And each conversation has left me with some insight or witticism I have wanted to share with others - for example, this sentence about Stevie Smith: 'She presented to the world the face that is invented when reticence goes over to the attack and becomes mystification.'

The book's title, A House of Air, is taken from Fitzgerald's article about 'The Grange', Edward Burne- Jones's house in Fulham, now demolished. It is an appropriate choice; the book is a spacious house, full of voices. 'Hearing them Speak', an article about dialogue, begins, 'Of course you want to

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter