Penelope Fitzgerald's fascinating portrait of the tragic poet and her life at the heart of the Bloomsbury set.
Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) cut one of the most distinctive figures of the twentieth century - beloved of Siegfried Sassoon and Walter de la Mare (for whom she was `a very rare being'), unafraid of Virginia Woolf, and considered by Hardy to be `far and away the best living woman poet'.
Part of a new wave of fashionable female dandies who lived passionate, precarious existences in Bloomsbury, she was an enchanting and spirited personality. But behind the brave face was a life riddled with grief: left to care for her disturbed mother, two siblings with undiagnosed Schizophrenia and Charlotte herself burdened by depression and closeted lesbianism; she killed herself by drinking household disinfectant.
In this unexpectedly gripping portrait of a life of passion unfulfilled, Penelope Fitzgerald brings all her novelist's skills into play in telling a story that is at once tragic, beautiful and deeply human.
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the `Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.