English writer Fitzgerald ( The Beginning of Spring ; Innocence ) displays a grace and wit that put her on equal footing with such better-known peers as Muriel Spark. Her own novel, shortlisted for the 1990 Booker prize, is set in the mannered quaintness of pre-WW I Cambridge, yet it goes far beyond the usual Wodehousean scenario of brittle dialogue and eccentric dons in flapping robes. The eccentric dons are by no means absent, but Fitzgerald's writing has a depth, resonance and delicacy that create a sense of genuine comedy rather than of farce. Fred Fairly, a junior fellow at St. Angelicus College, wakes from a bicycle accident to discover that, owing to the misjudgment of a good Samaritan, he has been put in a sickroom bed next to the young woman with whom he has collided. Having made the acquaintance of mysterious Daisy Saunders in this unlikely way, Fairly promptly falls in love with her, though as a St. Angelicus fellow he has pledged himself to a life of celibacy. One can count on Fitzgerald to resolve his dilemma in an unexpected fashion, and she is true to form as the novel swerves toward its satisfying conclusion. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991 Release date: 12/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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