This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

The Bookshop (1977)

by Penelope Fitzgerald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0751175,092 (3.51)301
Penelope Fitzgerald's wonderful Booker-nominated novel. 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 made 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.… (more)
  1. 20
    A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (Petroglyph)
    Petroglyph: Both of these books are gentle, mostly quiet novels about an outsider entering a small English town to see through an arts-related project. Their setting surpasses a pedestrian "look at these weird locals". Lots going on in the background if you look for it.… (more)
  2. 21
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (suzanney)
  3. 00
    The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho (MyriadBooks)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 301 mentions

English (99)  Spanish (9)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Latvian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
As I had seen the movie the previous summer, this rather interfered with my reading as comparisons would be made. Surprisingly I liked the movie better, perhaps the only time this has happened. Not the least of which for the somewhat happy ending of the movie that is missing from the abrupt conclusion of the novella. Mostly the movie kept very close to the text of the story, but somehow added greater depth to the characters. On its own I found this novella well paced with lovely prose and lots of understated humour, but again sparse on the characterization -- which perhaps is to be expected in a short work. Nice but not great. ( )
  amaraki | Dec 17, 2019 |
I was surprised to learn that Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978, surprised primarily because the book is so short that it does not allow for its multiple characters to be much developed before the book reaches its quick ending. I should say, too, that I stumbled upon the well-received 2017 movie version of the book a few weeks ago and watched that film before reading the novella (it’s between 118 and 163 pages long depending on which edition is chosen). The movie was more depressing than it was sad, but even then I was intrigued enough by some of the characters that I decided to read the book in order to learn more about them and their motivations. But it turns out that, the screen play does a better job of exploring the characters than the book does – and that’s not at all what I expected to find.

The Bookshop is the story of Florence Green, a middle-aged widow who in 1959 moves to the fictional English seaside village of Hardborough to open the only bookshop in town. It is only after she buys the Old House and opens the shop that Florence learns that one of the most influential women in Hardborough wants to close her down and use the Old House for her own purposes. It is no small accomplishment that the bookstore ever manages to open its doors in the first place, as the Old House is a damp old wreck when she moves in and is even haunted by the Rapper, a noisy ghost that refuses to vacate the property.

Florence does manage to open the doors even though the only hired help she can afford is a ten-year-old girl who comes in on Saturdays and after school every day. Florence, though, gets lucky when the little girl turns out to have excellent organizational skills that can be put to good use in a bookstore – especially a shop whose owner knows so little about running such a place herself. And when Florence decides to feature Vladimir Nabokov’s brand new (to England) novel Lolita in the shop window and sales take off, it looks like she just may make a go of the shop after all.

The ruthless Mrs. Gamart, however, never gives up her campaign to rid the Old House of its books and bookstore-owner so that she and those who think like her can convert it into an arts center. She is always there, more or less in the background, pushing others to do her will, and before long Florence is forced to take the threat seriously. Can she actually be evicted from the Old House despite the fact that it is both her only home and source of income? More importantly, will she?

Bottom Line: The Bookshop has an interesting story to tell but the sparseness of so many of its characters makes it difficult to believe. That Mrs. Gamart is an amoral woman whose personality intimidates her ex-military officer husband is obvious. What is not so obvious is why a seaside tourist village is filled with so many people just like her. I suspect that if that backstory had been explored in The Bookshop, I would have enjoyed it much more than I did. ( )
  SamSattler | Dec 14, 2019 |
This is a nice little story. Its amusing and very proper. However, the conclusion left me asking what the point? ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 26, 2019 |
Charming and delightful if somewhat forgettable, a woman opens a bookshop in a town which doesn't really want one, except for an old aristocrat no one sees. ( )
  lisahistory | Aug 31, 2019 |
Brilliant and very British! The odds are definitely stacked against Florence Green, starting with her banker, as she begins to make a go of a new bookshop in rural Suffolk by the North Sea. There are definitely hurtles to be overcome - such as deciding what books she should stock that would appeal to customers and where to store them to protect them from the dampness that permeates the town. Along the way she manages to befriend many of the town's vividly drawn characters and alienate others. A very funny and poignant book.
( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fitzgerald, Penelopeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bustelo, AnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Amico, Masolinosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kada, Júliasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krüger, ChristaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholls, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peters, DonadaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To an old friend
First words
In 1959 Florence Green occasionally passed a night when she was not absolutely sure whether she had slept or not.
"Now, Mrs Green, if you'd catch hold of the [horse's] tongue. I wouldn't ask everybody, but I know you don't frighten.' "How do you know?" she asked. "They're saying that you're about to open a bookshop. That shows you're ready to chance some unlikely things."
"Shall we just have a look at the transactions?" she asked, clicking her silver Eversharp, and using the tone which brought her employer to heel.
She opened one or two of [the books she's arranging in a new bookshop] - old Everyman editions in faded olive boards stamped with gold. There was the elaborate endpaper which she had puzzled over when she was a little girl. "A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."
She kept two of the Everymans, which had never been very good sellers. One was Ruskin's "Unto this Last", the other was Bunyan's "Grace Abounding". Each had its old bookmark in it, "Everyman I will be thy guide, in thy most need go by thy side".
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.51)
0.5 1
1 14
1.5 5
2 40
2.5 12
3 171
3.5 99
4 165
4.5 23
5 72

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 142,285,835 books! | Top bar: Always visible