Fred Fairly, scientist and junior fellow at St Angelicus College and Daisy Saunders, a working-class nurse from London, first meet in the most unlikely of circumstances: a cycling accident has them rescued by a good Samaritan and placed in the same bed to recover. A shock for the signed-up celibate Fred, but less so for the pragmatic Daisy. And so begins a romance that simmers away in the microcosm of pre-WWI Cambridge.
On the cusp of a changing world, this gentle Edwardian period piece, brimming with ideas, delivers an entertaining and satisfying read with its witty and clever writing.
Of our 8 members, one did not read it and one was away. One ( a school teacher) held the floor and answered all the questions with the help of one other, much to the delight of the rest, who were not agreed on its popularity! Laughter, interjection and 'leg pulling' were the order of the night, and we all felt it a lovely way to end our monthly discussions.
We were pleased it was a short book because some found it quite challenging, and a bit silly and boring. A few small 'gems'. Good description of time and place.
Mixed reaction to this book. Some loved it - others not so sure. Many felt it needed a second read to appreciate the humour.
'The Gate of Angels' was a very well-written story, but we could not engage with any of the characters. There were themes of class structure, feminism, and the contrast between the naivety of the male academics in their cloistered environment (eg. Fred), and the practical worldliness of Daisy. Actually, we found the notes about Penelope Fitzgerald and her life more interesting than the book. Maybe the story and themes were too subtle for us!
Penelope's concise characterisation was well appreciated by the group.
Not well liked but provided great discussion. Generally felt it was too disjointed and much had to be pieced together - although this is what endeared it to some.
Some really enjoyed this while others were disappointed with it. We did however have an excellent discussion following this and some then had a better understanding of its merits.
A very enjoyable book. The style is simple but perceptive, and the scenes and characters are convincing and appealing. A fascinating look at the class system and position of women at that time.
A smaller attendance than usual reduced discussion, nevertheless we had an animated couple of hours. Most enjoyed the book, the economy of writing, the capture of the academic differences/philosophical approaches. The questions however showed polarity of opinions ranging from amusing, quite comedic etc. while leaving readers equivocal about how to approach the book; left to decide which (if any) of the two approaches they favoured - scientific or spiritual. Several expressed an intent to read other of her titles: only one had previous experience of her work.
We all admired her writing and expression, but were divided over how much we liked the book - ranging from 'couldn't be bothered finishing' to 'absolutely loved it'!
Some members found the beginning of the book uninteresting and wondered why they should continue to read it, but persevere they did, and found they were rewarded in the main for their effort. Others really enjoyed the book.
We all admired her writing and expression, but were divided over how much we liked the book - ranging from "couldn't be bothered finishing" to " absolutely loved it!"
A very mixed feedback. Some loved it. Some hated it. We had one of the most interesting discussions because of this. No one came to blows:-)
The group loved Penelope Fitzgerald's gentle humour and her economy with words. She packed in a wealth of issues - suffrage, class, science v. religion, and without ever ramming ideas down the reader's throat.
2/12 liked the book, and thought it was funny, ironic and insightful. The rest of the group thought it was contrived in plot; several thought it was boring and most found it an unsatisfying read...
Group did not rave about the book, although many were away and had not managed to read it.
We were all looking forward to reading this book based on the reviews and notes. But... only 2 of us finished it. Comments included too descriptive and the main character was wooden and boring. However, we enjoyed reminiscing about Cambridge and reflecting on the science/religion topic. Overall just not for us.