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The Bookshop (1977)

by Penelope Fitzgerald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3201354,836 (3.5)326
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)
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» See also 326 mentions

English (115)  Spanish (9)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Latvian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Tenía ganas de leer este libro, sobretodo antes de ver la película (todavía la espero aunque ya con menos expectativa). No me desagradó, pero creo que esperaba más. Creo que esperaba que fuera un homenaje a los libros, ver más títulos... que se sintiera el amor por ellos realmente y no lo sentí así.
Sin embargo está bien escrito y es un libro que habla también de la soledad, de los cambios en la vida, de las envidias... y en momentos puede parecer "desesperanzador": hay sueños destinados a no cumplirse pese a las buenas intenciones de la gente, las amistades y hasta los espíritus.
Tiene toque entrañables y los personajes pudieron llegar a serlo, sin embargo no logré enamorarme de ellos.
Tal vez soy yo y no era mi momento. Veremos si con la película logro ver más allá de lo que pude captar esta vez.
Y ustedes ¿están de acuerdo conmigo o lo amaron? :) ( )
  GabbadelaMoraP | Apr 9, 2021 |
A simple seeming story of a widow who opens a book shop in a small semi-isolated town on the coast of Suffolk mid-20th century. She is opposed by the town's most active social force. It went by quickly, which is good for me because I wasn't getting anything but an uneasy mood from it. ( )
  quondame | Feb 21, 2021 |
At times our personal experiences and our literary ones neatly over lap. It was Penelope Fitzgerald's short novel about an outsider attempting to open a bookshop in a town she's unfamiliar which did so for me.
Although in my case it was two outsiders, opening two book shops and in two unknown towns, the discomfort rang true. We should've displayed the works of Camus in the window, to see if the townsfolk got the message.

( )
  Teresa1966 | Dec 22, 2020 |
Fitzgerald wrote an acerbic view of a small East Anglian village. Here, the townsfolk reflect a hierarchical society, cast in an economically-depressed situation. The story was a very bittersweet look at the efforts of a middle-aged widow attempting to make a go of running a bookshop under difficult circumstances.

The characterisations are quick, brief pen strokes, populating the narrative with mostly not very nice people. The lack of empathy and the self-serving village ‘aristocracy’ were very trying to read about. The novel reminds one of Sheridan’s School for Scandal in the way village culture reflects the insidious influence in this society. The village Queen Bee (Mrs. Gamart) is a nasty piece of work and there are few redeeming personalities in the other characters. Perhaps that was the point? Fitzgerald drew an excellent portrait of this dark side to village life and for that alone, the book deserves the 3-stars. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Nov 15, 2020 |
"Culture is for amateurs."

It is now de rigueur to declare Fitzgerald as one of the great neglected English novelists of the 20th century, and I must add my voice to that woeful chorus. Her starkly funny - or perhaps humorous upsetting - style is akin to those great ladies Muriel Spark and Barbara Pym. Her characters, like theirs, often hover on the fringes of good society; the "distressed gentlewomen", Pym often calls them.

Florence Green is one such character, a plain but still reasonably young widow who chooses to open a bookshop in a town that wants to reject her at every turn - even her resident poltergeist wants nothing to do with her. In 10 short chapters, Fitzgerald outlines Florence's unsettling encounters with the townfolk in wry, pointed notes, never allowing us to become either sympathetic or deeply enmeshed in the lives of any of them. Its events are of no consequence, and yet somehow feel staggeringly consequential. And at the heart of it all are questions about how we appreciate culture, how we relate to books themselves, and why we allow our dreams to take hold of us against all reason.

A deeply enjoyable read for fans of ironic British novelists. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
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» 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, DonadaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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."
Quotations
"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".
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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.

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