Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gate of Angels” as Want to Read:
The Gate of Angels
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gate of Angels

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  932 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
In 1912, rational Fred Fairly, one of Cambridge's best and brightest, crashes his bike and wakes up in bed with a stranger - fellow casualty Daisy Saunders, a charming, pretty, generous working-class nurse. So begins a series of complications - not only of the heart but also of the head - as Fred and Daisy take up each other's education and turn each other's philosophies u ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 3rd 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Gate of Angels, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Gate of Angels

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,012)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 14, 2016 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brits
Now who could resist Daisy Saunders? Obviously she looks the part of a true heroine, tall and slender but strong with a wealth of hair - ah, the symbolism of hair - and furthermore she is made of the right stuff: generous, frank and free in her opinions without being shameless or impertinent, pragmatic, witty, and intelligent. Irresistible. Fred cannot withstand her obvious charms for sure. Once Providence has thrown them together, he is smitten, he is felled, he is helplessly bewitched:
Jan 07, 2009 Jude rated it it was amazing
Within the last year i've developed the nasty habit of doing two things in bed i never had before: eating and watching television. i know. Disgusting to read, debilitating to experience - as these can only be called habits by the kindest or least caring minds and are in fact addictions of the first order. They do only harm and as the compulsion becomes and less manageable, so the satisfactions become more and more illusory.
If i were a dog or some other trainable entity, the idea would be to rewa
Sep 17, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
Penelope Fitzgerald wrote such rare small gems,and there just are not enough of them, so I spread them out. This time I chose The Gate of Angels, a novel set in turn of the century Cambridge. The plot is slender,a simple love story,but it is the comic backdrop of a pre-war Cambridge with its silly clubs, long worn out traditions and eccentric personalities that makes this book something to cherish. Fred Fairly's college is having a remarkably difficult time crossing the bridge from the 19th to t ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Supriya rated it really liked it
The more you read Fitzgerald the more her habits become apparent: class anxieties, differences between the interplay of intelligence and education - although I've never yet read a character of hers for whom either is mutually exclusive - a stylistic brevity that like Daisy Saunders, this novel's heroine, comes down to the fact that quarrelling is a luxury reserved for those who can afford the time. The construction of the novel as short story, with the big final OH SNAP moment coming in three li ...more
Justin Evans
Jun 24, 2013 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This could easily have turned into a fairly silly 'positivist-scientist comes to see that there's at least one thing that he can't explain positivistically, viz., love' kind of tale, which I'd be fine with under other circumstances, but I expect more from Fitzgerald. And she delivers more, much more--emotionally compelling, intellectually riveting, and told with her usual cold, charming narrator's voice. But most importantly she avoids the romantic-comedy category by making it very clear that Fr ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Sub_zero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2015
Ambientada en Cambridge en la segunda década del siglo XX, La puerta de los ángeles podría definirse como una suerte de novela de campus en la que diferentes miembros de la comunidad académica debaten largo y tendido sobre temas científicos de lo más elevado. Sin embargo, eso sería mentir. O, como mínimo, no contar toda la verdad. Y es que, en efecto, esta estupenda novela de Penelope Fitzgerald aborda profundas cuestiones filosóficas y espirituales que marcan en cierta medida su desarrollo argu ...more
Aug 18, 2014 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb book. Intelligent, very funny and poignant. Lovely clean clear writing style, very evocative without any purple prose. Perfect.
Rose Gowen
Dec 29, 2009 Rose Gowen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title gave me pause.

But there were no supernatural chicks, so it was okay. This was my favorite of my Fitzgerald binge. Really good. Funny. Forster-ish.

Here's a quote:

"When the whole of the men's ward had been persuaded to face the morning, the patients washed, wounds dressed, the windows facing the world open an inch and a half, those away from the wind open six inches, all of them two inches less than in the night, when the gas jets were burning, the abdominal cases on their backs, the apo
May 31, 2016 Nimbex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Es sin duda el que más me ha gustado de los cuatro que he leído de esta autora. Aquí también hay un final abierto, personajes extraños y situaciones más extrañas todavía pero todo ello encaja bastante bien con la historia que se cuenta. Es ameno y se lee casi de un tirón.
May 12, 2015 Janet rated it really liked it
At first I could not see (and therefore could not believe in) the attraction between Fred and Daisy. Beyond the circumstances of their meeting there seems not one common bond between them. No shared interests or values; no shared history or education. So what draws reticent, organized and practical, scientific-minded Fred who goes through life looking for rational explanations to free-spirit Daisy who accepts all that comes her way with direct, unapologetic honesty and never makes excuses or shi ...more
Paul Fulcher
Oct 26, 2015 Paul Fulcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"A scene of disorder, tree-tops on the earth, legs in the air, in a university city devoted to logic and reason."

Penelope Fitzgerald was a famously late blooming author, being shortlisted for the Booker in 1978 for The Booskop [] published when she was 60, winning it the next year for Offshore, and going on to be shortlisted 2 more times, in 1988 (for The Beginning of Spring) and finally in 1990 for this novel, which lost out to Byatt's Possession. Althou
Apr 12, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
Though they are never referenced (that I remember) there is a trace of Dante and John Donne about this novel, set in the Cambridge of 1912. Fred Fairly, a rector’s son, has recently renounced religious faith in favor of the natural sciences and a career at St. Angelicus College. One day he is involved in a serious road accident with another cyclist and a horse-drawn farm cart. While recovering from the accident he meets the other cyclist, Daisy Saunders, for a mere half hour and falls hopelessly ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loaned to me by my friend, Serena Sinclair Lesley, former fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph, "The Gate of Angels" is a mere 167 pages. It is a gem. Tells two stories: Fred Fairly, a junior fellow at the staid, all-male Cambridge college of St. Angelicus ("Angels")and Daisy Saunders, a trainee nurse with undeniable chutzpah. It takes place at the turn of the 20th century. Fred is a scientist and has thrown over the religion of his father, a vicar. Daisy is a no-nonsense working-class girl who ...more
A deceptively slim and amiable volume. Fitzgerald writes engagingly, wittily but sparingly, to both devilish and angelic effect. All the world, in all its charm, weakness, intelligence, irrationality, hopefulness, and humanity lies between these pages; but be warned: to blink would be to miss it.

Anyone who knows Cambridge (England) will recognise the breath-taking precision in astute and experienced observation which anchors lines such as “There was a hint of coming weakness in his voice, just a
Mar 17, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
A simple and elegant book, with attractive characters and real ideas. In 1912 Cambridge, Fred Fairly coasts along as a college junior fellow, following science and believing in reason. A bicycle accident propels Daisy, a failed nurse of the working class and passing wonder and faith, into his life. Fitzgerald focuses on the lives of each, her chapters short vignettes. Fred is handled with gentle humor, almost in the manner of academic farce, while Daisy's life follows more tragic paths. But they ...more
I was going to say that this was a love story, but then I remembered that only one of the protagonists is in love with the other. This is, I find, the more usual state of affairs. However this is a short, witty story with a happy ending set in Cambridge and London at the beginning of the 20th century.

Cambridge and London are not to be understood as high falutin'. This is an archaic Cambridge with male only colleges with celibate staff at the birth of modern physics and a London, well like it is,
Dan Dwyer
Jun 09, 2015 Dan Dwyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We can only guess at the ending

Normally, I feel very unsatisfied when I read an ending that leaves a reader up in the air, but not in the case of this refreshing though at times aggravating book. Let me clear up the aggravating business first. Half the book was taken up with a young student/professor type and the second half by a prospective nurse who fails for thinking she is doing something good when she commits the unfathomable sin of going to the press for the sake of a patient. These unlike
Not so good as I expected. From the scientific point of view, a disaster, Dame Fitzgerald didn't find the right point in my humble opinion.
Jul 04, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
I confess I was disappointed by this book. That is not to say I disliked it, but the Penelope Fitzgerald books I haven't read are dwindling, and I begin each remaining one with almost juvenile anticipation. I will delay Innocence as I did The Gate of Angels but will try to keep my expectations for the former in check after the mere adequacy of the latter.

It's a neo-Victorian (Edwardian?) story told in her usual wry and delicate style but it doesn't have quite the deft touch of The Blue Flower o
Apr 13, 2015 Karenwoolford27 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written novel, set in pre-WW1 Cambridge. Tells the stories of Fred Farley, a Fellow in Physics at Cambridge, and Daisy, a working-class Londoner who aspires to become a nurse. While Farley and his colleagues have their heads in the clouds debating the intellectual questions of the period, Daisy lives and suffers the consequences of being a poor woman in 1912 England. When Daisy and Fred quite literally run into each other in a biking accident, Fred resolves to give up his fellowship ...more
Mar 22, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it
A lovely romance that doesn't read like a typical romance. Prickly protagonists wend their way through towns and lives only to find their way back to each other. Told in a disjointed timeline, it can be dizzying to read, but well worth the trip.
Oct 04, 2014 Radiantfracture rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A charming -- and unexpectedly sombre -- pre-WWI set-piece, a love story that could seem slight but is enriched throughout by an awareness of the struggle of women to find fulfilling jobs, educations, and lives in a culture designed to belittle, confine, and exclude them. The novel charts the concentric circuits of ideas about knowledge and ignorance, about honesty and concealment, about "unobservables" and how they affect the trajectories of atoms and of lives. Much quiet humour and an enjoyabl ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
I can't remember where I first heard of Fitzgerald, although I suspect it was from one of the well-read subscribers to Rondua, the Jonathan Carroll mailing list. She is not a magic realist or fantasy author (as far as I can tell from reviews of her work and the present volume), although the book in question could be considered a ghost story it one wanted to interpret it that way. Of the authors of my acquaintance, she most resembles Robertson Davies in style and form. I don't think that I am cre ...more
My favorite Penelope Fitzgerald book. The story takes place in 1912 in Cambridge University and the smaller St Angelicus College. In less than 170 pgs Penelope Fitzgerald creates wonderful, fully developed characters, even minor characters, a sense of the time and place and she does it all with a sense of humor. This story takes place during the shift in thought from atoms as solid balls to unobservable units of energy, the shift in thought on women's roles, on class roles, and a bit on technolo ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel by Penelope Fitzgerald I have read. I very much enjoyed "The Bookshop". I think I gave it 5 stars out of 5. "The Gate of Angels" has a very slow start. It takes place in 1912 Cambridge and is the story of Fred Fairly, a junior fellow at the college of St Angelicus, where for centuries no female has been allowed to set foot. He falls in love with Daisy after crashing into her while they are both bicycling. This is when the story really picks up with the introduction of Da ...more
Doichin Cholakov
Sep 29, 2015 Doichin Cholakov rated it it was amazing
In The Gates of Angels' 1912 the imminent march to modernity is reduced to a booming background - we overhear the muffled roar of Rutherford and the chanting of the suffragettes but what we actually see are the celibate professors of a small Cambridge college debating endlessly on the impossibility of unobservable physical entities as the atoms and the ingenuity of survival of certain Daisy Saunders. And sort of a love story.
The book is packed with high brow references, exotic characters, supers
This is not a simple little story. The book is set in 1912 Cambridge. The main character, Fred Fairly, a vicars son, has lost his religious faith. He is a scientist, a physicist to be exact, and works in a (men only) College. He collides with his angel, a nurse named Daisy, by sheer coincidence. After some courtship and much confusion they part ways. Cambridge college life, fusty bachelors, eccentrics, and womens suffrage serve as a backdrop to the story. The nurse as angel comes into play, as D ...more
Steve Mayer
Dec 03, 2014 Steve Mayer rated it it was ok
Like The Only Problem, this addresses issues, such as the disjunction between faith and science, that i couldn't care less about. Interesting in spots, especially for an anglophile, but there are too many odd digressions. The end is first-rate, but the love affair isn't developed enough to be interesting. The best part of the novel is the description of Daisy's London life, which gives a vivid sense of what it must have been like to be a poor young orphaned woman in London at the turn of the cen ...more
Jun 05, 2014 Salvatore rated it really liked it
Penelope Fitzgerald is the greatest novelist you've probably not read at all, save you Amanda. The efficiency of words rivals Coetzee. The humor and despair match Joyce and Beckett. The echoes and recollections of memory of time feel like - do I even need to say it? - Woolf. This book is a love story that refuses to do anything by the book (thanks Juliet Capulet). Mops isn't sentimental. Like with the previous book she writes before this, The Beginning of Spring, she leaves the ending wonderfull ...more
Ad Blankestijn
Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000) only started writing novels when she was past sixty and over two decades managed to create an exquisite oeuvre of nine novels and two short story collections. "The Gate of Angels," is set at Cambridge University in 1912, when the modern age and modern science are knocking on the venerable doors of its lecture halls. The story is a delicious comedy, and also brings on ghost story writer M.R. James. See Splendid Labyrinths
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 67 68 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Keepers of Truth
  • The Hiding Place
  • The Avenging Saint
  • The Deposition of Father McGreevy
  • The Children of Dynmouth
  • Every Man for Himself
  • Pascali's Island
  • The Essence of the Thing
  • Scar Tissue
  • Europa
  • Our Fathers
  • The 13 Clocks; and, The wonderful O
  • The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
  • According to Mark
  • The Industry of Souls
  • Summer Half
  • Lucia Victrix
  • Collected Poems
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
More about Penelope Fitzgerald...

Share This Book

“To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is – in other words, not a thing, but a think.” 1035 likes
“More than that, I believe that the grass is green because green is restful to the human eye, that the sky is blue to give us an idea of the infinite. And that blood is red so that murder will be more easily detected and criminals will be brought to justice. Yes, and I believe that I shall live forever, but I shall live without reason.” 6 likes
More quotes…