Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald

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“A wonderful combination of deadpan English comedy and surreal farce.” — A. S. Byatt “A tribute to the unsung and quintessentially English heroism of imperfect people.” — New Criterion

When British listeners tuned in to the BBC's Nine O'Clock News in the middle of 1940, they had no idea what human dramas—and follies—were unfolding behind the scenes. Targeted by enemy bombers, the BBC had turned its concert hall into a dormitory for both sexes, and personal chaos rivaled the political. Amidst the bombs and broadcasts two program directors fight for power while their younger female assistants fall prey to affairs, abandonment, and unrequited love. Reading this intimate glimpse behind the scenes of the BBC in its heyday, “one is left with the sensation,” William Boyd wrote in London Magazine, “that this is what it was really like.”

This new edition features an introduction by Mark Damazer, along with new cover art.

About Penelope Fitzgerald

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Penelope Fitzgerald wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel OFFSHORE won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for THE BLUE FLOWER. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn't. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"
Published March 18, 2013 by Mariner Books. 144 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Human Voices

Publishers Weekly

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Now that Fitzgerald has widened her audience here--Blue Flower was published to rave reviews and the 1997 NBCC fiction award--Houghton Mifflin is releasing her early novels in paperback. This graceful

May 03 1999 | Read Full Review of Human Voices

Publishers Weekly

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Fitzgerald conveys the peculiar intimacy and secrecy of wartime: people disappear from this strange little world very easily and almost without comment, yet, besieged as they are by the fear that England will soon go the way of occupied France, they cling to each other fiercely.

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London Review of Books

All this is held to have happened about twenty years ago: Mrs Fitzgerald, like the novelist de Morgan, is fond of what he called ‘dichronism’ – tales which belong to two different periods, the past looked at in terms of the present.

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The first few lines of Penelope Fitzgerald's HUMAN VOICES introduce readers to the orderly chaos of BBC offices in London during the air raids of World War Two.

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Human Voices

The Paris Review

It is the heart of any room and should be kindled on the slightest provocation.” (That said, I’m guessing Alexa Chung or someone is wearing sports shoes with an evening dress as we speak, and probably causing a sensation.

Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Human Voices

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