• Gail Wilson Kenna

My Brilliant Companions

In April of 2018 I was to leave Phoenix on an AA 'red eye' and be in Richmond by early Sunday morning. But the trip took 36 hours, the first night spent in the Phoenix airport, the second in a sketchy hotel in Charlotte. So many angry, disgruntled passengers in both airports, with only one female agent in Charlotte to handle unhappy passengers from a cancelled "jumbo" flight to London. My luck that night was to be fifth in line before a hundred or more joined me. My sanity throughout this long ordeal from Phoenix to Richmond was the quiet genius of two women: Penelope Fitzgerald and her biographer, Hermione Lee.

This Monday afternoon, forty months later, I am back from the post office, having mailed a manuscript after numerous computer SNFU's yesterday. No blog from me today, only these few words, and the cover of Hermione Lee's brilliant Fitzgerald biography. This is the book, quite by accident, that I had in my hand luggage that night in Phoenix when AA cancelled the flight. The biography is 428 pages and requires a slow, thoughtful read. And that's how I read it while trying to get home. I read the biography again recently, and I'll read it once more before classes begin in October on Penelope Fitzgerald.

On the book's back cover, a testimonial from the NY Times says the book is "excellent, riveting…will send you racing back to read the subject's work." In my case the biography sent me forward to read Fitzgerald's work: ten novels to her credit, three works of non-fiction. In my Monday blog, I'll be writing about Penelope for many weeks. I hope you'll join me!

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