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The Blue Flower

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  2,997 Ratings  ·  479 Reviews
Penelope Fitzgerald wrote her first novel 20 years ago, at the age of 59. Since then, she's written eight more, three of which have been short-listed for England's prestigious Booker Prize, and one of which, Offshore, won. Now she's back with her tenth and best book so far, The Blue Flower. This is the story of Friedrich von Hardenberg--Fritz, to his intimates--a young man ...more
Paperback, 226 pages
Published April 15th 1997 by Mariner Books (first published 1995)
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Caitlin Brady I think the Blue Flower was also my first Fitzgerald, and it remains one of my favorites, alongside Gate of Angels. But everything I've read by her is…moreI think the Blue Flower was also my first Fitzgerald, and it remains one of my favorites, alongside Gate of Angels. But everything I've read by her is wonderful. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alexandra
Feb 17, 2009 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring writers
A gorgeous, elliptical book, which I was drawn to by its subject (eighteenth century German philosopher and poet becomes obsessed with unattractive twelve year old girl). I fell in love with The Blue Flower just like Fritz - later known as Novalis - did with Sophie, only the book's positive qualities are slightly more obvious. It's beautifully written, understated, and perhaps more touching than you would expect. Fitzgerald never demands that you like her characters, and there's no sentimentalit ...more
Emma
Jun 05, 2013 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
....each thing has its own characteristic beauty, not only everything organic which expresses itself in the unity on an individual being, but also everything inorganic and formless, and even every manufactured article.
- Schopenhauer

This book is the nuts.

Penelope Fitzgerald has created an affecting novel, based on the early life of Friedrich (Fritz) von Hardenberg (1772-1801), the German romantic poet and philosopher later known by the pen name of Novalis.

Flitting from various viewpoints and
...more
Cecily
Oh dear. Awful. Just awful. Even more so, given how much I adored my first Penelope Fitzgerald last summer (Offshore) and that AS Byatt called this "a masterpiece". I'm baffled.

The prose is plodding - even though it's portraying a poet: short, banal sentence, after short banal sentence. I found the characters, setting and plot hard to imagine, care about or believe in - even though it's based on real life. I forced myself to finish it, thinking there must be something worthwhile to come. I faile
...more
Sam Quixote
Feb 04, 2015 Sam Quixote rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Blue Flower is another of the books my dear old dad got me at Christmas and, like the other one I read, What a Life! by JB Priestley, it is a stone cold turkey! I’m not sure what my pa asked for when he went into the bookstore, but I’m pretty sure it was “I want to bore my son like he’s never been bored before - what books do you suggest?”

The novel looks at the short life of Novalis, an obscure late 18th century German Romantic philosopher/poet and his relationship with his 14 year old betro
...more
Petra Eggs
Nov 09, 2012 Petra Eggs rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was an overgrown novella. I think that actually Dostoevsky would have done this theme more justice as it reminds me of The Idiot in some ways - the girl's innocence and faux maturity perhaps. Thing is if I am going to read about some man's infatuation (can't really call it love, can you?) for a 12 year old girl, which is pedophilia of thought if not action, I want that aspect of it explored. Obviously I wasn't going to get the depth of Nabokov with his distasefully wonderful Lolita but this ...more
Jan-Maat
This is my favourite of the three Fitzgerald novels that I've read. In common with Gate of Angels and The Beginning of Spring a wealth of research has gone into this novel.

Our reasons for liking a novel are often subjective and completely unreasonable. In my case the place and time of the setting and the intellectual firmament of the characters overlap, and this gives me some happiness. It is the end of the Enlightenment and the shattering of the Ancien Regime (at least in mainland Europe) that
...more
Natalie
Feb 26, 2011 Natalie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: brave readers who don't care if they are having fun.
How dare I refuse to give this book that was named Book of the Year by nineteen British newspapers in 1995 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1997 anything less than a five?

NYT reviewer Michael Hofmann wrote of The Blue Flower: It is an interrogation of life, love, purpose, experience and horizons, which has found its perfect vehicle in a few years from the pitifully short life of a German youth about to become a great poet -- one living in a period of intellectual and political u
...more
Ian Laird
Mar 12, 2015 Ian Laird rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a sad story about a doomed love and short lives. But it is a bit of a misfire if the central premise, the love story, does not work.

Penelope Fitzgerald was a gifted writer who could make something out of very little and in unlikely circumstances. With the The Bookshop she made a memorable story out of a middle-aged woman starting a bookshop in a disused, damp (a telling detail) building in a small English rural town against formidable opposition. Here she attempts something more ambitiou
...more
Althea Ann
I picked up this book because it had a pretty cover. I noticed it had a blurb on the front from A.S. Byatt, whom I rather like, and it also noted that the author, Fitzgerald, was a winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. So I looked at the back cover, and saw that it was a historical novel about the early life of the German Romantic poet Novalis - which was quite a coincidence, since I'd just that month been reading about Novalis and looking at some of his poetry online. So I grabbed it!

However,
...more
 Imene

تنتمي هذه الرواية الى جنس البيوغرافيا اذ أنها "تؤرخ" لحياة الشاعر الألماني نوفاليس أحد رواد الرومانسية
يحسب للكاتبة الانجليزية بينلوبي فيتجيرالد نقلها الدقيق لألمانيا القرن الثامن عشر من خلال الاهتمام بتفاصيل
الحياة الاجتماعية حينا و الحرص على ابراز خصوصية البلدات الألمانية أحيانا أخرى
لكن ذلك لا يخفي وهنا في سرد الأحداث التي كثيرا ما اتسمت بالبطئ الشديد ما جعل الرواية ثقيلة الوطأة على النفس في عدة مواضع
زد على ذلك الترجمة التي أكد المترجم على الصعوبات التي واجهها في نقل هذا العمل للعربية، خاصة اذا
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 06, 2008 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
In its first chapters this novel sprays a fine tangy mist over your face, like coming across the sea after many months inland. Hoopla! We're in for some fun. But - after a while this novel becomes the so-amusing toy whose batteries keep it chirping and beeping long after it should have glided behind the chest of drawers of oblivion. Our smile has faded. And finally this novel is like your elderly female relative who has a superstitious horror of naming anything directly, and will use every last ...more
Beni Morse
Nov 08, 2010 Beni Morse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Stunning.

Every single sentence is purposeful and unimprovable. It evokes the world of 18th-century Germany with such vividness and authority and ease, while feeling nothing like a historical novel.

I can't think of a book that achieves a more beautiful balance between gravity and lightness, poetry and philosohy. The Blue Flower is eseentially about the nature of love and why we sometimes (often?) choose such odd candidates as the objects of our deepest affection.
Julia
Apr 25, 2011 Julia rated it it was amazing
Ich habe Die blaue Blume aus der Reihe der Süddeutsche Bibliothek bei meinem Bruder aus dem Bücherregal gezogen und war mir nicht sicher ob meiner Erwartungshaltungen gegenüber dem schmalen Bändchen.
Penelope Fitzgerald schreibt ähnlich wie Antonia S.Byatt einen Stil, der an eine Tuschezeichnung erinnert, fein, zierlich, detailgenau - doch nicht wie in The Children's Book, das ein wenig blutleer bleibt, ist die Blaue Blume voll von den Gerüchen, Farben und Atmosphären der Epoche Novalis', Fichte
...more
Lahierbaroja
Jul 29, 2015 Lahierbaroja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuando estoy perdida y no sé qué leer, cuando pienso que todos los libros son mediocres o cuando me encuentro en una crisis lectora tras varias historias que no brillan, recurro a Fitzgerald. Porque esta autora es un éxito seguro, por cómo despliega una historia aparentemente sencilla en un universo complejo, por la elegancia de su estilo y cómo mide las descripciones. Es una delicia leerla. Y más en una edición como esta.

Para mí Fitzgerald es mi tabla de salvación cuando los mares de las lectur
...more
Irene
Feb 12, 2017 Irene rated it liked it
I loved the droll humor and the use of language in this historical novel, but I was confused by the characters and uncertainly what the author was trying to get at.
Adam Dalva
Jan 22, 2016 Adam Dalva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, odd piece of historical fiction packed with memorable characters whose seemingly minor actions congeal into a sweeping representation of the late eighteenth century. While Novalis's romance with a young girl is certainly the emotional core of the novel, I'll remember his siblings and the wonderful Karoline for just as long. Fitzgerald, whose late blooming career is fascinating in and of itself, has a very light touch and a clear affection for the source material, which is presented seaml ...more
Hadrian
German salt miner writes about poetry and falls in love with a girl half his age, and dies just old enough to be past the 27 Club.
Rebecca
True story. 18th Century poet falls for plain gal.
Tis about inexplicable love. Such as directed at this novel. ;)
Romanticism turned to tedium. *gahs*
مروان البلوشي
تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠٨
رواية عن حب متأخر وتحرر مبكر..ليست باهرة..جيدة
Catie
Read in June 2016 as a buddy read on IG. I found it quite difficult to get into the book at first. It took me about 50 pages before I could clearly grasp the characters, the subject matter and where the novel was going. Honestly, if it hadn't been for a book group read, I probably would have DNF'd after the first few chapters.

I found the prose a little clumsy and monotonous and none of the characters quite likeable. For a highly praised book, I did have a bit of a problem seeing why??

Quite a few
...more
Chana
Jan 26, 2009 Chana rated it it was amazing
This book is perfect but I am not sure why. It is absolutely captivating from the first words on, it never bogs down, it is neither too many words nor too little, it is a complete world. As soon as I finished it I fell asleep and dreamed that I was terribly ill as I was still so immersed in the book. All day I have not been ready to pick up another book and finally this evening have selected a housecleaning book as I still want to savor this novel and I can do that while I clean.
Vicky
Mar 17, 2010 Vicky rated it did not like it
This novel was puzzlingly overpraised, and I'm not sure why. It is empty, cold, mean-spirited and does not allow us to sympathize with, or even understand, the characters. It purports to tell the story of the German Romantic poet Novalis's infatuation with a 12-year-old girl, but it doesn't help us to understand this strange situation. What *is* the narrative aiming toward? Sometimes it seems to simply want to mock and diminish its characters or to display a minute knowledge of the period.
RH Walters
Sep 02, 2010 RH Walters rated it it was amazing
Begins with the house's biyearly laundry tumbling out the windows and ends in cold water. Quirky, sad and atmospheric.
Angie
Feb 15, 2010 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book a great deal. It is incredibly simply written but so cleverly put together that there are real moments where you cannot help but be in awe of Fitzgerald. Her touch with words, is simple but oh so subtle that one cannot help but feel emotions ranging from sadness, intense humour and curiosity.

Each chapter is short, almost vignette like in 3 or 4 pages, and although there is a narrative running throughout, each short story has a point to it which may or may not be relevant to the
...more
Luckngrace
Apr 27, 2011 Luckngrace rated it it was amazing
This Booker Prize winner is a fascinating study of life in late 17th-century Germany. One hilarious anecdote concerned washing clothes. Most of the upper-class families did the washing every 3 months. One man on the household owned 69 shirts. Our protagonist, Fridrich's family did the wash only once a year. There were 14 children in the family and numerous servants. This was before washers and dryers were invented. It blows my mind--and that isn't even what the book is about.

The book is a biogra
...more
Selvi
Dec 15, 2010 Selvi rated it it was amazing
My favorite novel, I think. Somehow it floods the senses with the time and place (or her rendering of it). It reminds me of hyldeblomstsaft, the concentrated elderflower syrup that they use to make a drink in Denmark that will conjur up summer in mid-January. I love it (and her)for that quality. All of her writing is like that, but this one is the best.
Marwa Eletriby
بحب النوع ده.من الروايات
فكرتني بجين اوستن
بس الترجمة ظلمتها
Danica
Apr 18, 2011 Danica rated it it was ok
I strained so hard to "get" this book I nearly popped a joint. No, not that kind, although at times this book felt so stupefyingly plodding that reading it may have approximated the same effect. Why, wondered I, did it land the plum spot on 19 separate end-of-the-year book lists in 1995, as its back cover so modestly relates? After pondering the issue for a bit, I have come to the conclusion that I am either braindead or a ninny or, possibly, that it just isn't that good. (BUT HOW COULD A.S. BYA ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I don't consider myself an unsophisticated reader; I enjoy literary fiction and I like non-traditional stories. But it seems I'm the only person who disliked this book.

The writing was fine, but the story and characters were bland and boring. I appreciate that a historical novel has to stick to history, and certainly Novalis' story is interesting, but this book is blinding boring. I disliked all the characters and failed to appreciate the way anyone behaved -- in part, I was very grossed out by a
...more
Eva Kristin
Sep 21, 2016 Eva Kristin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well. I admit I didn’t get this one. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s short. What a pointless read. None of the characters left an impression on me, except for a vague respect for the capable and patient Sidonie and Frederike, and a vague dislike for the self-centered Bernhard. It seems everyone in this book meets with a tragic ending, but frankly, I don’t really care. I guess Fitzgerald just isn’t for me.
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Penelope Fitzgerald was an English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, The Blue Flower, as one of "the ten best historical novels".

Fitzgerald was the author of nine novels. Her novel Offshore was the winner of the Booker Prize. A further three novels — The B
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“A word of advice. If, as a young man, student, you are tormented by a desire for women, it is best to get out into the fresh air as much as possible.” 5 likes
“Algebra, like laudanum, deadens pain, Fritz wrote.” 1 likes
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