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In 1959, when there was no fish and chips in Hardborough, no launderette, no cinema except on alternate Saturday nights, the need of these things was felt, but no one had considered, certainly had not thought of Mrs Green as considering, the opening of a bookshop.
When Mrs Florence Green, a ‘small, wispy and wiry woman’ decides to open a bookshop in the small Suffolk town of Hardborough she has no idea of the force of opposition that will ensue.
In attempting to challenge a seemingly sleepy and indeterminate status quo, in her own quiet way, Florence uncovers an undercurrent of tenacious resentment against her small project. The complex webs of small-town community close in around her as those with minor influence seek to hold sway.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s fiction is at its best when illuminating the lives of outsiders, outcasts, the misunderstood, the hopeful; the flotsam and jetsam often destined to be left behind. Nowhere is her keen eye for human frailty better exemplified than in the Booker Prize shortlisted novel, The Bookshop, a subtle blend of poignancy and humour, a masterclass in modern tragicomedy.
‘A gem, a vintage narrative… a classic whose force has not merely lasted but has actually improved in the passage of years’ – New York Times
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 130 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 11 mm
'Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality - the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.' - Sebastian Faulks
'Wise and ironic, funny and humane, Fitzgerald is a wonderful, wonderful writer.' - David Nicholls
'Its stylishness, and this low-voiced lack of emphasis are a pleasure throughout, its moral and human positions invariably sympathetic. But it is astringent too: no self-pity in its self-effacing heroine, who in a world of let-downs and put-downs and poltergeists, keeps her spirit bright and her book-stock miraculously dry in the damp, seeping East Anglian landscape.' - Isabel Quigley, Financial Times
'Penelope Fitzgerald's resources of odd people are impressively rich. Raven, the marshman, who ropes Florence in to hang on to an old horse's tongue while he files the teeth; old Brundish, secretive as a badger, slow as a gorse bush. And this is not just a gallery of quirky still lives; these people appear in vignettes, wryly, even comically animated...On any reckoning, a marvellously piercing fiction.' - Valentine Cunningham, TLS
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“Try putting Florence on the shelf”
As a newcomer to Penelope Fitzgerald this title caught my eye instantly. An avid book shop browser and with some experience of rural Suffolk/Norfolk I was intrigued by the plot. Florence Green lives in Hardborough a... More
“Utterly compelling, I couldn't put down. The pages exude warmth and compassion ”
A short and utterly compelling novel that I read within the space of a few hours. I simply could not sleep until I reached the final page. I so hoped for a happy ending though I knew I was unlikely to get one.... More
Loved this, living close to and being familiar with southwold, I was keen to read this.
Compelling and lovely to read, could not put it down.
Reminiscint of life anywhere really with its characters of your normal... More
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