Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Who could pass up a homeless little book-about-books like this? I rescued a battered copy out of the dollar bin at the used book store in town, and at only 123 pages had it read in an afternoon. It's a sweet but frustrating story about a woman trying to open and run a bookshop in a small English town. Frustrating because she runs into . . . opposition? What kind of small minded characters would oppose a quiet country bookstore in an old stone house? Baffling.

This, Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel, was her first to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is set in a small East Anglian coastal town, where Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. "She had a kind heart, but that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation". Hardborough becomes a battleground, as small towns so easily do. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result she has to take on not only the people who have make themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. This is a story for anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice. (back cover)



4 comments:

Tracy said...

No, I can't imagine anyone being opposed to opening a bookshop (except the owner of an existing bookshop, maybe). Everyone loves browsing in bookshops, surely? Supernatural forces? I'm intrigued!

Trish said...

Yes, did I mention there was a kindly ghost at the bookshop, too? She called it the 'rapper' because of the noise it would make. And, no, there were no other bookshops, just ignorant people.

Sam said...

Why were the locals opposed to the bookshop? I can understand being opposed to a nightclub or something like that, but not a bookshop.

Trish said...

sam - Various reasons but mostly they wanted the old stone house for an art center instead. They didn't believe a bookshop to be high culture enough. Lame, right? I'm not familiar with this author, but she does irony very well.