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The bookshop
Penelope Fitzgerald
Adult Fiction FITZGERAL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Long unfamiliar to American readers, Fitzgerald began, last April, to get the attention she deserves when Mariner brought out her 1995 novel, The Blue Flower. This reprint of her 1978 novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize (she won it the next year with Offshore), should enjoy a similar success. Its premise is straightforward: in 1959, Florence Green‘"small, wispy and wiry, somewhat insignificant from the front view, and totally so from the back"‘decides to use the small legacy left by her late husband to buy the Old House and start a bookshop in the tiny Suffolk town of Hardborough-by-the-Sea. One would think the inhabitants would be grateful‘as they've been without a bookstore since the day, more than 100 years ago, when "a bookseller in the High Street... knocked down one of the customers with a folio when he grew too quarrelsome." But aside from a reclusive gentleman and a few schoolchildren, Green has no allies. Her purchase of the Old House has scotched a conniving local grande dame's vision of an "arts centre," and Green's few small successes (most notably with Lolita) provoke the animus of fellow merchants. Fitzgerald is mordantly funny, especially when exposing the foibles of the town's extremely petty population, but this is by no means a jolly tale of English eccentrics. Hardborough is more like the Newfoundland of Annie Proulx and Howard Norman than, say, the Sussex of E.F. Benson, and this delightfully chill, damp, gothic little chronicle brings brilliantly to life parochial politics, the anxieties of starting anew at middle-age, the bleakness of a deteriorating fishing town on the North Sea and, of course, the exigencies of running a bookstore. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Florence Green, a widow, has lived for ten years in a small village in Suffolk, England. With a modest inheritance, she plans to open the first and only bookstore in the area. Florence purchases a damp, haunted property that has stood vacant for many years but encounters unexpected resistance from one of the local gentry, Mrs. Gamart, who has a sudden yen to establish an arts center in the same building. Florence goes ahead with her plan in spite of Mrs. Gamart and meets with some small success. However, Mrs. Gamart surreptitiously places obstacles in Florence's way, going so far as to have a nephew in Parliament write and pass legislation that eventually evicts Florence from her shop and her home. This work by veteran writer Fitzgerald (The Blue Flower, LJ 3/1/97), originally published in Great Britain, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978. Both witty and sad, it boasts whimsical characters who are masterfully portrayed. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/97.]‘Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education, Providence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Florence Green
Female
Age: Middle aged
English
Bookseller



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