Trin's Reviews > The Bookshop

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
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's review
Jun 03, 2007

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bookshelves: fiction, booksaboutbooks, english-lit
Read in May, 2007

An English widow decides to open up a bookshop in her small town. That was all I knew of this book (well, and that my mom has a dozen of Fitzgerald's slim paperbacks strewn around her house) and that was what made me pick it up. So my reaction here is kind of a case of thwarted expectations: I was expecting something much more light and comic and—okay, I don't want to say life-affirming, because my vanity wants me to think I am not the sort of person who ever desires to read anything that could be described as "life-affirming" or "uplifting." But yeah: I wanted to read something that made me go, "Books and reading FTW!"

This is not that book. Really, it's a tiny, tightly-written tragedy, a story about how people can be really, truly awful to one another, with all the good people getting punished and bad people rewarded. It's very well-written and perfectly, plainly presented, and damn, does it hurt. I finished it just after midnight and went to bed whimpering.
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