Blue Flower
Penelope Fitzgerald, Introduction by Candia McWilliam, Read by Thomas Judd and Stephanie Racine

Book cover image

Narrated By: Thomas Judd, Stephanie Racine

Duration: 6 hours

What to expect

Penelope Fitzgerald’s final masterpiece.

Set in Germany at the very end of the eighteenth century, The Blue Flower is the story of the brilliant Fritz von Hardenberg, a graduate of the Universities of Jena, Leipzig and Wittenberg, learned in Dialectics and Mathematics, who later became the great romantic poet and philosopher Novalis. The passionate and idealistic Fritz needs his father’s permission to announce his engagement to his ‘heart’s heart’, his ‘true Philosophy’, twelve-year-old Sophie von Kuhn. It is a betrothal which amuses, astounds and disturbs his family and friends. How can it be so?

One of the most admired of all Penelope Fitzgerald’s books, The Blue Flower was chosen as Book of the Year more than any other in 1995. Her final book, it confirmed her reputation as one of the finest novelists of the century.

Genre

Modern & contemporary fiction

Listen to a sample

‘The Blue Flower is a model of what historical fiction can be at its best – when the radical otherness of other times is not merely acknowledged but made integral to the fictional experience. It's also Fitzgerald at her best – elegant, inventive, hilarious, unsparing. I adore this book.’ Jonathan Franzen

‘Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality – the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.’ Sebastian Faulks

‘Wise and ironic, funny and humane, Fitzgerald is a wonderful, wonderful writer.’ David Nicholls

‘An enchanting novel about heart, body and mind. The writing is ellipitical and witty… so that what could be a sad little love story is constantly funny and always absorbing. This novel is a jewel.’ Carmen Callil, Daily Telegraph

‘Her sense of time and place is marvellously deft, done in a few words. She knows how they all walked, eased their old joints. She knows the damp smell of decay of the ancient schlosses. In a bare little book she reveals a country and an age as lost as Tolstoy’s Russia and which we seem somehow always to have known.’ Jane Gardam, Spectator

‘Detail, expertly dabbed in, provides a substantial background for the story of a poet which, it is subtly suggested, is also the story of a remarkable moment in the history of civilisation… It is hard to see how the hopes and defeats of Romanticism, or the relation between inspiration and common life, between genius and mere worthiness, could be more deftly rendered than they are in this remarkable novel.’ Frank Kermode, LRB