The Gate of Angels
by Penelope Fitzgerald
1990 / 219 pages
rating 9 / historical fiction
Back in a very well presented 1912, somewhere near Cambridge England, Fred Fairly, a physics lecturer at St. Angelicus, was riding down the road on his bicycle when he was startled by an unlit farm cart and crashed into a pedestrian, Daisy Saunders, a poor nursing student. A neighbor rushed to help and took them to her home where she put them in the same bed because Daisy was wearing a wedding ring.
Fred is pretty badly hurt and lands in a hospital where, guess what, the unmarried Daisy watches over him as she is a student nurse. Fred falls in love which is against the rules of his job and the tale unfolds from there. Who was driving the cart that got away?
This is a very odd book, it has a very British feel and there’s certainly a sense of mystery to it, occult even, but this is mixed with a small discussion of atoms and religion – things which are also unseen. The science people are truly lost in their own worlds – the culvert may be a metaphor – you never can tell.
Fitzgerald is an old favorite for me – I’ve read all her novels but the first one – The Golden Child (1977). These are not happy novels but they’re sometimes quite funny. I think I appreciated The Blue Flower most but The Bookshop was fascinating.