Hello again my lovelies! It’s your favourite owl here, i.e. Sarah!
It feels like an absolute age since I last did a review so I’m eager to get back into it! I was planning on bringing you my review of Ismail Kadare’s The Fall of the Stone City this week but due to certain circumstances, I didn’t manage to read it in time. I shall bring you that next time around, and in the meantime you can be satiated with my review of Penelope Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, The Blue Flower! As you will soon find out, I highly question how it got to that status in the first place, but I digress…
As a bit of background, this novel is a semi-biographical account of the life of Friedrich von Hardenberg, a German writer, philosopher and all round smart arse who lived in the late eighteenth century. Towards the end of his life, he became famous for his writings under the pseudonym of Novalis. It is based on historical texts about Friedrich, as well as actual letters that he and the other characters wrote in their lifetime. However, there has been much embellishment thanks to Fitzgerald so it’s pretty impossible to know what’s true to fact and what is not.
I must admit that I’m leaning towards a negative opinion of this novel. The writing style is really good which made it easy to immerse myself in the narrative. However, the subject matter itself was rather troubling. Now, I know that this was beyond Fitzgerald’s control as she’s predominantly relaying a true story so I can’t really criticise her for that. But a twenty two year old man falling head over heels in love at first sight with a twelve year old girl is just a little unsettling in my books. And fair enough, it’s not a massively sexual desire on his part, more of an enchantment, a fascination with something about her that he can’t put his finger on. But despite that, Sophie, the girl he’s in love with, isn’t even an exceptional character, so it’s really hard to grasp what he sees in her. His own friends and family comment on her plain looks and uninteresting personality, and even Sophie herself is taken aback when he confesses his love on their first meeting, reminding him that they don’t even know each other. So you can imagine my surprise, as well as that of the people around him, when, a year after their meeting, after only seeing each other a select few times, he proposes to her.
Despite not liking Friedrich or Sophie, the two main characters, there were some other fairly interesting characters that lifted the novel up slightly in my estimation. However, the lack of character development in any of them, not to mention the lack of significant events taking place in the entirety of the novel, made this a difficult read at times. Oh, and then they all suddenly die of TB in the end anyway. I mean, can you think of a more stereotypical eighteenth century way to die?
So yeah, overall, a bit disappointing, anticlimactic and soul destroying, truth be told. Wow, I’ve just realised that this review has gotten progressively more depressing – a true reflection of this book. So there you have it, yet another scathing indictment from me. Of course, as always, I recommend you read it for yourself and form your own opinion, and I wish you the best of luck when you do!
Lots of love, Sarah Xxx