Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

At Freddie's

Just finished Fitzgerald's "At Freddie's". How something apparently so shallow can hide so many depths is beyond me. Set in 1963, it deals with the to-ings and fro-ings of a dramatic school for children, the Temple, presided over by the monumental Miss Wentworth, 'Freddie'. Those to-ings and fro-ings are the stuff of magic.
Where to start with that magic! Her characters, though almost always eccentric, are never grotesque, each hearted with an authentic human soul. Situating them in a perfectly believable world helps immeasurably, and you can practically smell the greasepaint, see the threadbare furniture. Then there is the delicate thread of the story itself, so fragile as to defy easy encapsulation. As cleverly as any piece of Aristotelian stagecraft, the novel integrates its cast completely with its action.
Ultimately what amazes the reader though is just how effortless it all seems. For instance, the final 30 pages are a masterclass in how to ring the bell you spent the previous 130 pages forging. It rings true.
Sheer genius. Penelope Fitzgerald, I wish you were still around to take a bow.

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