THE BLUE FLOWER by PENELOPE FITZGERALD.
It is the late eighteenth-century Germany and the passionate, idealistic and brilliant Fritz needs his father's permission to announce his engagement to twelve-year-old Sophie, his 'heart's heart', his 'true Philosophy'. It is a betrothal, which amuses, astounds and disturbs his family and friends. How can it be so?
..... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Jacob Dietmahler was not such a fool that he could not see that they had arrived at his friend's home on the washday.
MEMORABLE MOMENT(S): The first sentence as above but because I had such high hopes that this would be a good read AND the last sentence as I had finally finished.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: A reading group copy, I have no intention of buying my own.
At times reading like a recollection of events rather than a novel, The Blue Flower just didn't flow well. Combine this with the frequent use of German words and I found it difficult reading at times ..... and Husband dearest soon got tired of me asking what such and such a word translated as.
Also I found the characters unmemorable (not to mention unremarkable) - partly because, apart from Sophie's somewhat childish love of Fritz, I didn't connect with any of them, and partly because some were known by several different names. Sophie for example was also known as Sophgen as well as several 'pet' names such as Philosophy which, combined with the fact that many names were strange to my ears, I personally found confusing. Then, of course, there was the fact that some characters had their names prefixed by 'the'. Bernhard for example was more often than not referred to as 'the 'Bernhard'. Why? I just didn't understand why this should be and found myself become increasingly puzzled and, if I'm totally honest, irritated by its usage.
As for the love story between Sopie and Fritz ........ I couldn't help but feel that Sophie's love was immature, very much the love a young girl would feel for a older man whilst Fritz, a character I found rather selfish and didn't take to, I felt, was more in love with the thought of being in love than he was in love with Sophie.
A reading group read, given my love of historical fiction involving 'real' people I may well have picked this up myself though thankfully I didn't as as it turns out it wasn't my cup of tea.