The English writer Penelope Fitzgerald was born a hundred years ago today.
She was a clever woman from a distinguished family, and this book, The Gate of Angels, is set in Cambridge in 1912.
Our hero is a young teacher at the university concerned with the mysteries of nuclear physics who finds that the strange and random nature of the sub-atomic world seems to be affecting the whole district:
How could the wind be so strong, so far inland, that cyclists coming into town in the late afternoon looked more like sailors in peril?
Even the cows, scrambling to get at the willow leaves on the wind-felled trees, stumble and fall, but they carry on munching, displaying their pale bellies carelessly to the world.
One afternoon our hero wakes up to find himself in bed in an unknown house. As if this isn't odd enough, there's an equally unknown woman beside him (and he's not at all that kind of a man).
The Gate of Angels is a wonderful book - funny, odd, delicious and short. Just as a bonus, it has a character based on the ghost-story writer MR James, too.
I can't give away the ending, can I? But I can say that, perhaps surprisingly for such a book, it really does have one. And a rather a magical one, too.
Angel by Simone Martini, 1333
Word To Use Today: angel. This word comes from the Greek angelos, which means messenger.