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The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
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The Bookshop (original 1977; edition 2015)

by Penelope Fitzgerald (Author)

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1,776955,663 (3.52)271
Member:soylentgreen23
Title:The Bookshop
Authors:Penelope Fitzgerald (Author)
Info:Mariner Books (2015), Edition: Revised ed., 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:read in 2017, read while travelling, woman writer, literary, booker, england

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The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (1977)

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English (78)  Spanish (10)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (94)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Lovely, gentle, sad book. I purchased it after seeing the film, and feeling that something was a little "off" with the adaptation. Reading the book confirmed that. Very little happens in the book - Florence Green, widow, uses her small capital to purchase The Old House (damp and haunted) and open a bookshop in a small East Anglian town. However she doesn't quite fit in and despite support from a number of other outsiders (Raven, Wally the sea scout, her small assistant Christine and the reclusive Mr Brundish) she is no match for the local power in the form of Mrs Gamart who cannot bear to see someone else succeed. Beautiful writing and very delicate and gentle. The film overplayed and exaggerated almost everything - read the book instead. ( )
  Figgles | Aug 8, 2018 |
You can tell this book was written by a poet. It’s also obvious that the writer couldn’t be from the US. This novel of the daily life in a conservative British town is as stifling as the conservative politics behind the motives of the town leaders and hangers on. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Jul 22, 2018 |
This, I assumed, was to be a gentle story about a middle-aged, somewhat lonely, widow taking her life into her aging hands to establish a bookstore in the laid back village of Hardbourough, England. Let me tell you, it is much deeper and emotionally trying than I had expected!

Florence Green, noted early on to be a woman with courage and endurance, has chosen to purchase the "Old House" which has been vacant for seven years and thought to be haunted. In it would be not only her home but Hardbourough's first and only book shop. The setting and atmosphere are perfect for a book shop story. Rather desolate area, marshy land and even rappers aka poltergeists round out the aura. A place where not much happened in 1959 and people seemed to be fine with that.
As the reader learns about the village folk and their eccentricities so does Florence. Though they talk of change in their community, they choose to remain the same and no one expected Florence to be the one to bring it about . Some villagers are helpful from the start and remain so while others are conniving, jealous perhaps and haughty throughout, then there are those who surprise with their actions.
It's a hard road, operating a book shop, and many hits and misses occur but courage and endurance have their limitations so what will become of Mrs. Greene? The conclusion is a bit depressing but one feels, come what may, Florence will survive.

This was my first Penelope Fitzgerald and I look forward to read more, I have a feeling her other novels will also provide a little more than meets the eye.
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  Carmenere | Jul 18, 2018 |
Florence Green lives in small English town and is recently widowed. Using her limited knowledge as an employee at a bookstore in her youth and a small sum of money she inherited, Florence decides, against the advice of several naysayers, to open a bookstore. The building is a major "fixer-upper" and is haunted by a rapping poltergeist, but Florence perseveres in following her desire to reinvent herself and her life.

Despite some initial mishaps, and with the help of a precocious tween assistant, Penelope does make a go of things, and is even complemented by the venerable aristocrat who keeps himself aloof of village happenings. This final insult to the local self-named grand dame of the arts (and a suggestion of disapproval of her stocking the sensational novel, Lolita), Penelope is finally defeated.

In the winter of 1960, therefore, having sent her heavy luggage on ahead, Florence Green took the bus into Flintmarket via Saxford Tye and Kingsgrave. Wally carried her suitcases to the bus stop. Once again the floods were out, and the fields stood all the way, on both sides of the road, under shining water. At Flintmarket she took the 10.46 to Liverpool Street. As the train drew out of the station she sat with her head bowed in shame, because the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop.

This novel was particularly thought-provoking and sad for me, as I have just moved to a town without a bookstore. What makes a town not want a bookstore? Given the demise of the local, independent bookstores over the last dcade, it made me think about the people like Florence Green, who are put out of business, largely by Amazon. Is my purchasing from the behemoth to save a few dollars and have the convenience of delivery, so I don't need to go to a library or bookstore, worth the loss of culture bookstores bring to a place? It led me to wonder, what makes a country anti-intellectual, and am I contributing to that phenomenon? ( )
  labfs39 | Jul 6, 2018 |
bookbox; set in a fictional english tiny economically depressed tiny town, Florence takes on renovating an old house into a bookstore and lending library. Some townfolk cheer her on, others trying to thwart the effort. ( )
  nancynova | Apr 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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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, DonadaReadersecondary 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395869463, Paperback)

Since 1977, Penelope Fitzgerald has been quietly coming out with small, perfect devastations of human hope and inhuman (i.e., all-too-human) behavior. And now we have the opportunity to read "The Bookshop," her tragicomedy of provincial manners first published in 1978 in the U.K., but never available in the U.S. The Bookshop unfolds in a tiny Sussex seaside town, which by 1959 is virtually cut off from the outside English world. Postwar peace and plenty having passed it by, Hardborough is defined chiefly by what it doesn't have. It does have, however, plenty of observant inhabitants, most of whom are keen to see Florence Green's new bookshop fail. But rising damp will not stop Florence, nor will the resident, malevolent poltergeist (or "rapper," in the local patois). Nor will she be thwarted by Violet Gamart, who has designs on Florence's building for her own arts series and will go to any lengths to get it. One of Florence's few allies (who is, unfortunately, a hermit) warns her: "She wants an Arts Centre. How can the arts have a centre? But she thinks they have, and she wishes to dislodge you."

Once the Old House Bookshop is up and running, Florence is subjected to the hilarious perils of running a subscription library, training a 10-year-old assistant, and obtaining the right merchandise for her customers. Men favor works "by former SAS men, who had been parachuted into Europe and greatly influenced the course of the war; they also placed orders for books by Allied commanders who poured scorn on the SAS men, and questioned their credentials." Women fight over a biography of Queen Mary. "This was in spite of the fact that most of them seemed to possess inner knowledge of the court--more, indeed, than the biographer." But it is only when the slippery Milo North suggests Florence sell the Olympia Press edition of "Lolita" that Florence comes under legal and political fire.

Fitzgerald's heroine divides people into "exterminators and exterminatees," a vision she clearly shares with her creator--but the author balances disillusion with grace, wit, and weirdness, favoring the open ending over the moral absolute. Penelope Fitzgerald's internecine if gentle world view even extends to literature--books are living, jostling things. Florence finds that paperbacks, crowding "the shelves in well-disciplined ranks," vie with Everyman editions, which "in their shabby dignity, seemed to confront them with a look of reproach." One senses that classic hardcovers would welcome The Bookshop, despite its status as a paperback original. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The pettiness of an English seaside town. It is described by Florence Green, a middle-aged widow who buys a house for a bookshop, something the town has not had for over a century. Leading her enemies is Mrs. Gamart who wanted the house for an arts center.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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