The Bookshop By Penelope Fitzgerald (Paperback)
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