Alison Garwood Jones

Penelope Fitzgerald on Builders & Takers

November 13, 2023

Occasionally, a novelist comes along who distracts me from my love of biographies.

Enter Penelope Fitzgerald, the English novelist and author of The Bookshop.

Portrait of a woman with Eugene Waves by Alison Garwood-Jones

I’ve decided this drawing is her protagonist, Florence Green. Florence’s honest attempts to open a jewell of a bookshop in her seaside English town were destroyed by the coordinated efforts of a status-hungry social climber, indifferent bank managers, and corrupt solicitors. There are no happy or romantic endings in this book (the only romance is with books).

The way Fitzgerald describes how decent, powerless people confront and move through failure is breathtaking. She famously believed that the real division in life, the only one that matters, is that between the ‘exterminators and the exterminatees, with the former, at any given moment predominating.’”

It’s hard to follow that sentence, except to say that Fitzgerald handles the harshness of life with clarity and even wonder.

Drawn in Procreate #ClassicOilBrushes #1920sPalette


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