THE GATE OF ANGELS by Penelope Fitzgerald


Email this review


The entertaining latest from Fitzgerald (The Beginning of Spring, 1989, etc.)--as much a story of love in Edwardian England as a gentle but witty sendup of the genre and the age. When young Fred Fairly, son of an impecunious clergyman, becomes a junior fellow at St. Angelicus College in Cambridge, he expects to devote his life to science. Founded by a pope in the 15th century, St. Angelicus is the smallest college in Cambridge--so small that fellows can meet only in the dining hall or the courtyard. Unlike other colleges, it has also remained closed to female visitors--no woman can pass through its gates--and insists that its fellows be unmarried. Ambitious and keen on science, Fred should be happy, but he has fallen in love with the mysterious Daisy Saunders, whom he met after they were both thrown off bicycles by a recklessly driven cart and horse. Daisy is a young woman of character and beauty, but ""not knowing how dangerous generosity is to the giver,"" she's been unfairly dismissed from her nursing position in London. Now she's come down to Cambridge with a sleazy journalist out to seduce her, but the accident intervenes. Daisy recovers and finds a low-level job; Fred courts her and proposes, but at the trial of the cart-driver the truth about poor Daisy's background is revealed, and their love seems doomed. As the genre demands, fate benevolently intervenes. Daisy, hearing cries of distress, enters St. Angelicus, where she is delayed long enough to be reunited with Fred. All the correct Edwardian nuances, but often turned upside down. A not-too-serious postmodern and feminine riposte to collegiate misogyny and some of E.M. Forster.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0395848385
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Doubleday