Most reviewed: So I Have Thought of You

<p>A number of books were well reviewed last weekend, but the collection of letters by Penelope Fitzgerald<em>, So I Have Thought of You</em>, edited by her son-in-law Terence Dooley (Fourth Estate), occupied most column inches. </p><p>Reviewers were keen to gain new insight into the life of the late Booker-winning novelist. &ldquo;In person, Fitzgerald gave away little of the ruthless, tragic vision which underpins her writing,&rdquo; wrote the <em>Financial Times</em> art critic Jackie Wullschlager. &ldquo;That is why So I Have Thought Of Your, where she does reveal herself, is among the most illuminating, moving collections of letters that I have ever read.&rdquo;</p><p>Wullschlager added that the collection &ldquo;pulsates, too, with the uncertainty of living, the immediacy of everday impressions, [and] an insight into the imaginative, mind&rdquo;.</p><p>In the <em>Daily Telegraph</em>, Philip Hensher wrote that the selection of letters &ldquo;ventures towards what a lot of people are keen to see -- a full-dress biography&rdquo;. Hensher found, however, that the letters were &ldquo;patchy&rdquo; and that Fitgerald &ldquo;might have regretted some of [the collection&rsquo;s] execution&rdquo;. </p><p>Letters are grouped by correspondent, which was &ldquo;not very helpful to the reader&rdquo;, said Hensher, and &ldquo;too often one doesn&rsquo;t know to what Fitzgerald is responding or about whom she is talking&rdquo;. &ldquo;It is good to have some of Fitzgerald&rsquo;s letters,&rdquo; he concluded, &ldquo;but some serious work on the apparatus before the paperback would be very welcome. She deserves, as no one doubts, the Rolls-Royce treatment.&rdquo;</p><p>Hilary Spurling, writing in the <em>Observer</em>, agreed that &ldquo;Fitgerald&rsquo;s letters have been erratically edited&rdquo;, which leaves the reader &ldquo;baffled in a collection that offers little or no information as to chronology or context, seldom explains what any given letter is talking about and only sporadically indentifies people mentioned in the text&rdquo;.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>MOST REVIEWED (1st to 3rd August):</strong></p><p><em>So I Have Thought Of You</em> by Terence Dooley (ed) <br />(Fourth Estate 9780007136407 &pound;25)<br />&ldquo;Among the most illuminating, moving collections of letters that I have ever read&rdquo; &#8200;<em>Financial Times</em> <br />&ldquo;The notes are decidedly skimpy&rdquo; <em>Daily Telegraph</em> <br />&ldquo;Erratically edited&rdquo; <em>Observer</em></p><p>Bits of Me Are Falling Apart by William Leith <br />(Bloomsbury 9780747591726 &pound;10.99)<br />&ldquo;A more accessible, true-life version of Joyce&rsquo;s Ulysses&rdquo; <em>Daily Mail</em> <br />&ldquo;Very funny&rdquo; <em>Observer</em> <br />&ldquo;I wish he&rsquo;d spared us the navel-gazing&rdquo; <em>Sunday Times</em> </p><p>Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff<br />(Bloomsbury 9780747597278 &pound;18.99)<br />&ldquo;The best introduction to this fine writer&rsquo;s fiction&rdquo;&#8200;<em>Guardian </em><br />&ldquo;A fascinating new direction for one of America&rsquo;s best short-story writers&rdquo; <em>Sunday Times</em> <br />&ldquo;Masterly&rdquo; <em>Sunday Telegraph</em></p><p>Vermeer&rsquo;s Hat by Timonty Brook<br />(Profile 9781846681127 &pound;18.99)<br />&ldquo;[His approach] shows a consistent ability to depict the lives of individuals against a background of impersonal forces&rdquo;&#8200; <em>Independent</em> <br />&ldquo;Brilliant&rdquo; <em>Guardian</em> <br />&ldquo;Fabulous&rdquo; <em>Sunday Telegraph</em></p>