Synopses & Reviews
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop -- the only bookshop -- in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors' lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence's warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn't always a town that wants one.
"This work by veteran writer Fitzgerald, 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." Library Journal
"Penelope Fitzgerald's novel The Bookshop is a little gem, a vintage narrative first published in 1978 of parochial English life in the late 1950s, a classic whose force as a piece of physical and moral map making has not merely lasted but has actually improved with the passage of years." Valentine Cunningham, The New York Times Book Review
"A beautiful book, a perfect little gem." BBC Kaleidoscope
"This is not just a gallery of quirky still lives; these people appear in vignettes, wryly, even comically animated....On any reckoning, a marvelously piercing fiction." Valentine Cunningham, Times Literary Supplement
"Pitch-perfect in every tone, note, and detail: unflinching, humane, and wonderful." Kirkus Reviews
"Penelope Fitzgerald is the finest British writer alive." Richard Eder, Newsday
"A solid and satisfying bit of human life...every action in it matters, however small. The style is understated but exact, and the crystalline and amused observation of small country town people, speech, ways, animals and landscapes gives continuous pleasure, especially the 1950s bookshop interior, with the boy who comes in every day after school to read another chapter of I Flew with the Fuhrer." Emma Fisher, The Spectator
"A marvelously piercing fiction" (Times Literary Supplement), shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Featuring an introduction by David Nicholls.
About the Author
Penelope Fitzgerald wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument...for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn't. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"