The Beginning of Spring

In 1998 Penelope Fitzgerald won the NBCC Award for The Blue Flower. Since then, many of my friends have read that book as their introduction to her and been confused, or worse, underwhelmed. I always recommend starting with The Beginning of Spring, the story of Englishman Frank Reid, proprietor of a printing press in pre-revolutionary Moscow. The book is a comic masterpiece, perfectly capturing the idiosyncrasies of the English and Russian temperaments. And, like most of Fitzgerald's novels, it's gem-like at less than 200 pages.

TMN Contributing Writer Jessica Francis Kane’s first novel, The Report (Graywolf Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her story collection, This Close (Graywolf Press, 2013) was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Story Prize and was named a Best Book of the year by NPR. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children. More by Jessica Francis Kane

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