Friday, May 9, 2008

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


This is the first book by Fitzgerald that I've read. It's a fun novella that is full of small town charm and wit. Florence Green, a widow, decides to open a bookshop in the Old House in the tiny coastal town of Hardborough. Much to her surprise, she soon discovers that not everyone in this tiny little community is excited about her new venture. It seems that even though the Old House has been sitting empty for ages, once Florence decides to purchase it for her bookshop, others suddenly have ideas for the place themselves. It's not only some of the townsfolk that she must contend with, but she also must contend with the rapper who occupies the Old House, as well. Before you get the wrong idea, the rapper in this case is a poltergeist that isn't too thrilled to have someone living in the house again. But, Florence doesn't let the people or the poltergeist stop her from realizing her dream. After much negotiation with the bank manager, Florence gets the loan and begins the task of turning the Old House into a proper bookshop.

The book is full of interesting characters (besides the rapper) such as Christine, the 10-year old girl who becomes Florence's assistant in the store. Like all of the children in Hardborough, Christine is used to hard work and seems older than her years. Mrs. Gamart is the self-appointed matron of Hardborough along with her husband the General. While most of the townsfolk simply think Florence's shop will fail, Mrs. Gamart is openly against the idea. For she has decided that Hardborough requires an arts center, and the Old House is the perfect place for it. Never mind the fact that it has sat empty for years. There's really only a couple people who actually support Florence in her endeavor, one being an eccentric recluse whom she only meets in person once. This is a fun book with great descriptions of small town life in a coastal village and a cast of very colorful characters. I will definitely be seeking out more books by Penelope Fitzgerald.

10 comments:

Danielle said...

This sounds wonderful. I have several of her books, though I've not gotten around to reading any of them!

Lisa said...

danielle, this was my first, and I did enjoy it. I really think it would be better if I read it again. I was somewhat distracted the first time through. What can I say, I'm easily distracted. :)

Dorothy W. said...

I have a couple of her books too, but have yet to read her. Your description makes this book sound very appealing!

Iliana said...

I read this one years ago and really loved it. So glad you did too. I can't believe I had forgotten about the rapper though! I found it a bit sad but I think I felt a lot of hope for Florence in the end anyway.

Gentle Reader said...

I have another of her books on my shelf--The Blue Flower--but this sounds great. I love books that describe small-town life. I'll have to check it out :)

Lisa said...

dorothy, this was my first book by this author, and I don't own anything else by her. I may have to check something out at the library.

iliana, there is a bit of sadness to this one, but Florence is strong and has a sense of hope about the future, as well.

gentle reader, I also love to read about small town life. Fitzgerald captures small town life quite nicely in this one.

Karen said...

I've read a few of hers, but not this one yet. My favourite so far is The Gate of Angels.

Lisa said...

karen, maybe I'll try that one. My library has Offshore, too. I'll probably read that one next.

Gentle Reader said...

So if you read Offshore next, we can compare notes :)

Lisa said...

gentle reader, I'd love to see what you think about that book. I really like to compare notes on what I'm reading. I guess that's why I enjoy blogging and book clubs so much. :)