Penelope Fitzgerald's first novel, THE GOLDEN CHILD, combines a deft comedy of manners with a classic mystery set in London's most refined institution -- the museum. When the glittering treasure of ancient Garamantia, the golden child, is delivered to the museum, a web of intrigue tightens around its personnel, especially the hapless museum officer Waring Smith. While prowling the halls one night, Waring is nearly strangled. Two suspicious deaths ensue, and only the cryptic hieroglyphics of the Garamantes can bring an end to the mayhem. Fitzgerald has an unerring eye for human nature, and this satirical look at the art world delivers a terrifically witty read.
About the Author
PENELOPE FITZGERALD wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument ... for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn't. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"
"A classically plotted British mystery . . . leavened with a wicked sense of humor. Nobody is safe: pompous art critics with their gobbledygook, precious aesthetes, heads of departments, the public, the cops . . . Miss Fitzgerald has been around - the plot flops all over the place, including a trip to Russia. Somehow Miss Fitzgerald, thanks to her lovely writing style and eye for the absurd, makes everything hang together." -- Newdigate Callendar The New York Times
"Reading "The Blue Flower," Fitzgerald's 1995 novel about the German romantic poet Novalis, whichwon the National Book Critics Circle Award, gave me a shock of pleasure in her originaland uncommonly forceful literary presence. (That book, by the way, should be requiredreading for all writers and devotees of historical novels.) With the re-issue of "The GoldenChild" and "At Freddie's," all nine of Fitzgerald's novels are now available in Americanpaperback editions. Her dryly smiling wit, more reminiscent of French aphorists than British novelists, was fully evident in her first book, "The Golden Child." It's plotted as a classically dotty English murder mystery, featuring eccentric but deadly ambitious art curators." -- reviewed by Brigitte Frase Newsday