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Paperback The Means of Escape Book

ISBN: 0618154507

ISBN13: 9780618154500

The Means of Escape

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

In her final book--published posthumously--Fitzgerald presents several very strange pasts, her narratives ranging from the 17th century to the late 20th century. The title tale, set in New Zealand in 1852, resembles a cautionary fable about a spinster and an escaped con. But in Fitzgerald's hands, it is infinitely more.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A satisfying read

I first encountered Penelope Fitzgerald when her novel, The Blue Flower, was introduced to my daughter's book club. That book did not set well with me. I found it to be dull and flat. What a nice surprise to find her collection of short stories in The Means of Escape brilliant and contoured. Ms. Fitzgerald's stories held my attention from beginning to end although I think The Means of Escape and At Hiruharama are the best of the lot. Ms. Fitzgerald has a keen eye for detail, weaving those details into the quirky, yet rich texture of her "story stuff." As a result, she's able to elicit a wide range of human emotions (happiness, sadness, joy, disdain, pity) from her readers. This slim volume is a satisfying read. Don't miss it.

Dream Shepherdess

These short stories are handsome. Handsome as in seeing an old woman who still has a certain spark. But they are wily handsome old stories, tricky, like dreams you wake up from before they're over (or maybe they really are over). That's the point, it's hard to tell if the stories are neatly over and a useless exercise to try. And things are not as they may seem. It's much like thinking, as you're falling asleep, counting sheep, wow, these fluffy little sheep jumping gracefully over me really are matted and full of odd little particles.

Not What Traditional Admirers May Expect

Ms. Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the greatest new Authors that became known to me over the last year. While I have read all of her novels, I have read only one of her three non-fiction works. I have commented on all, and with one exception I wish she had started writing about 4 decades sooner than she did.Her novels all had several common denominators, their quality, the scope contained in the length she used, and their length, or more accurately their lack of length. So when I encountered this book that offered 8 stories over a diminutive 117 pages, even as great an admirer as I was incredulous.The 8 stories are not equal, some are extremely clever, and one or two seemed more like thoughts that were abruptly cut off. Some of her novels ended with the finality of a guillotine blade crashing down, however this was after a good bit of reading had been done. When the stories average out at 14 small pages each, the word abrupt is too tame. Two stories in particular stood out, "Desderatus" and "The Axe". Of these two one showed a side of this woman's writing I never expected. Stephen King easily could have placed "The Axe", in a collection of his short stories, and it would have fit beautifully. Had this woman made the decision she may have been a writer that brought us classics in the Genre of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula". Lights definitely go on and stay for, "The Axe".This is not a five star work by this wonderful Author. However I rate it as such for all the great writing she shared in her all too brief career. Taken as a whole this is probably a 3.5 to 4 star work. I miss the lady's exercising of her craft too much not to give the work 5 stars. Think of it as a thank you for all she gave readers.

very off beat and odd

I'm sure most people will come to Fitzgerald through her novels, so I have to excuse myself as a first time reader who just happened to pick up these short stories. I still haven't decided if I enjoyed the collection, but they are unique. I thought the first story was by far the best, but after that, the quality varied widely. Unlike a classic short story writer (someone like Guy de Mauppassant), these stories have NO resolution for the most part. In fact, they leave you with that feeling of listening to music and waiting to shift back into the major key. Discordant is the word I'm looking for. The settings take the reader all over the globe and across three different centuries. I suspect most would enjoy her novels more (I am certainly heading in that direction to read them next), but I can't say since I haven't read them myself. Overall, I found this collection a bit unsettling, but still well written. I'm sure her fans will enjoy them more than I did on this first encounter.

Elegant, odd, short stories about odd, intriguing, people

Penelope Fitzgerald died earlier in 2000. She was one of my very favorite authors. Starting in 1979, she wrote a series of short, funny, often bittersweet, novels about odd, intriguing, people in odd, intriguing, places. The most famous was her last, _The Blue Flower_, about the German Romantic poet Novalis and his love affair with a very young girl.This posthumous book is her only collection of stories. They are like her novels in being about odd and intriguing people in odd and intriguing places. The writing is as ever with Fitzgerald elegant and clear and beautiful. The focus is just slightly off-center. The stories are very short, and I miss the space she had even in her rather short novels for looking at her characters from all sides. But these stories are still rewarding and worth reading.The title story is about a young woman in mid-19th Century Tasmania, the organist at her church, who encounters an escaped prisoner. The resolution is quite unexpected, and wholly true. "Beehernz" tells of an eccentric old conductor living in near squalor on an isolated Scottish island, and an attempt to lure him back for one more performance. Again, the view is off-center, intriguingly so. "At Hiruhamara" is set in 18th Century New Zealand, as two young people sent out from England start to make a place for themselves. The story is neatly told from the point of view of a descendant of the two, and as such a theme about pioneers comes through. The other stories are similarly neat. Recommended.
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