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Book Club Podcast: The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald

04 April 2024

© Fanny Dubes/Alamy

The author Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000), listed among “the 50 greatest British writers since 1950” by The Times in 2008

The author Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000), listed among “the 50 greatest British writers since 1950” by The Times in 2008

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The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald is the choice for this month’s Church Times Book Club. On the podcast this week, Emily Rhodes, who has written this month’s Book Club essay about the book, is in conversation with Sarah Meyrick. 

The Beginning of Spring is a historical novel set in Moscow a few years before the Russian Revolution as political tensions mount. The story starts with the sudden unexplained departure of Frank Reid’s wife, Nellie. She boards a train heading west, leaving her husband and children behind. Frank moved to Moscow with his family to run his father’s print business. Unlike his rambunctious Russian neighbours, Frank is a repressed but honourable English gentleman — a man of reason. Frank is left to look after three small children, and, for him, the ensuing days are full of misadventure, poignancy, and wonder. This intriguing story, which doesn’t follow conventional plot lines, is set against the background of the great thaw in Moscow which heralds the arrival of spring.

The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald is published by HarperCollins at £9.99 (Church Times Bookshop £8.99); 978-0-00-654370-1.

Emily Rhodes is a writer and journalist, whose features and reviews have appeared in publications including the Financial TimesThe SpectatorThe Guardian, and the TLS.

Sarah Meyrick is a novelist. Her latest novel is Joy and Felicity (Sacristy Press, 2021). 

The Church Times Book Club is run in association with the Festival of Faith and Literature

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Discuss this month’s book at facebook.com/groups/churchtimesbookclub

Click the play button above to listen to this podcast. You can also listen to the Church Times Podcast on the Church Times app for iPhone and iPadSoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and most other podcast platforms. Music for the podcast is by Twisterium. 

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