The Means of Escape

Penelope Fitzgerald

Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most highly-regarded writers on the English literary scene. Apart from Iris Murdoch, no other writer has been shortlisted so many times for the Booker. Her last novel, ‘The Blue Flower’, was the book of its year, garnering extraordinary acclaim in Britain, America and Europe.

This superb collection of stories, originally published in anthologies and newspapers, shows Penelope Fitzgerald at her very best. From the tale of a young boy in 17-century England who loses a precious keepsake and finds it frozen in a puddle of ice, to that of a group of buffoonish amateur Victorian painters on a trip to Brittany, these stories are characteristically wide ranging, enigmatic and very funny. They are each miniature studies of the endless absurdity of human behaviour.

Reviews of The Means of Escape

  • ‘Of all the novelists in English in the last quarter-century, she has the most inarguable claim on greatness. This is a small book, probably not above 25,000 words, but a remarkably rich one. It sets the seal on a career we, as readers, can only count ourselves lucky to have lived through.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator

    ‘So readable, so sharply tender, at the top of her form.’ Adam Mars-Jones, Observer

    ‘As succinct, droll and individual as Fitzgerald has, over the years, given us every right to expect.’ Sunday Times

    ‘Luminous, dark, unflinching.’ Hermione Lee, TLS

    ‘Eight masterpieces, polished and perfect, and with such mesmerising characters that each story is equal to any novel.’ Polly Samson, Independent ‘Books of the Year’