by Penelope Fitzgerald
Publication date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited (first published October 1st 1978)
Short-listed for the Booker Prize.
In a small East Anglian town, Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop.
Hardborough becomes a battleground. 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. Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.
‘The Bookshop’ is a quaint read about a widow named Florence Green. Set in 1959, Florence takes the decision to open a bookshop, buying an abandoned house in the coastal town of Hardborough and converting it into a business and a place to stay. Residents of the village claim the house is haunted, but Florence is not deterred and is determined to succeed in her venture.
This is quite a nice novel in places, but deep down it’s really an exploration of the many hurdles that Florence faces in this strange town and the unfriendly residents that live within it who all seem to be on a mission to shut the bookshop down. This is less of a story about books, more about people and their behaviour.
Unfortunately I found that this book didn’t hold my attention throughout and I found myself drifting from the story a little bit. I didn’t have a great deal of interest in the characters and on reflection, I didn’t find any of them to be particularly engaging which I feel is quite important in a character driven story. I’m not sure if they were just under-developed or if this was down to personal taste, but it take something away from the story for me and I can’t say I’m really fan.
That said, this is my first book by Penelope Fitzgerald and, as I enjoyed the writing style, I am still keen to look into more of her writing. I’ve also just found out that there as a film of this story released a couple of years ago which I’m interested in watching, perhaps I’ll like that a little more!
Overall rating: “The Bookshop” is a story of one woman’s attempt to open a bookshop in a village where everyone seems determined to make her fail. This one wasn’t really for me and I didn’t have a great deal of interest in the characters – a 2 star read for me.
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