A new edition of the Booker Prize winner Penelope Fitzgerald's best-loved novel of romance in post-war Italy, with a new introduction by Julian Barnes.
The Ridolfis are a Florentine family of long lineage and little money. It is 1955, and the family, like its decrepit villa and farm, has seen better days. Only eighteen-year-old Chiara shows anything like vitality.
Chiara has set her heart on Salvatore, a young and brilliant doctor who resolved long ago to be emotionally dependent on no one. Faced with this, she calls on her English girlfriend Barney to help her make the impossible match...
`Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality - the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.' Sebastian Faulks
`Wise and ironic, funny and humane, Fitzgerald is a wonderful, wonderful writer.' David Nicholls
`Penelope Fitzgerald's Innocence seems to me to be about real people undergoing real experiences, more real and more interesting than most biographies, and it carries absolute conviction as to time and place. What more could one ask of a novel?' Spectator Books of the Year
`Innocence weilds a curious fascination, replete with the sense of sleepy, slightly anxious fatalism that pervades much of the Italian cinema of the period. Its magic, and its message, are as oblique and inconclusive as the lives of its characters, but both have a lingering power, refreshingly fictive, deliciously un-English.' Literary Review
`I know of no one who expresses so deftly and entertainingly the way in which life seldom turns out as expected. A wonderful book.' Spectator
`This is by far the fullest and richest of Penelope Fitzgerald's novels, and also the most ambitious. Her writing, as ever, has a natural authority, is very funny, warm and gently ironic, and full of tenderness towards human beings and their bravery in living.' TLS
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the `Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.