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The Bookshop

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  5,293 Ratings  ·  934 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 ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 184 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Thorndike Press (first published 1978)
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Adam Stevenson I assumed it is a physical manifestation of the town's resistance to change.

But I've read an interview with her, and it turns out she worked in a…more
I assumed it is a physical manifestation of the town's resistance to change.

But I've read an interview with her, and it turns out she worked in a bookshop that had it's own poltergeist.. which she believed in.(less)
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Seemita
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bookshop Huggers
Shelves: booker-sl-ll, fiction, uk
On an unusually upbeat evening, I was winding up from work. The recently bought, crisp, intense 300-pages long fictional drama, that I had left, tantalizingly, at the 273rd page the previous night, was softly tip-toeing in front of my eyes. The unread pages were already floating invitingly in the evening breeze and I could not wait to reach home for resuming the date. When I was just stepping into the lift, I received a call from a friend, a bibliophile in fact. ‘Hey! Do you know they are closin ...more
Warwick
Reading this in conjunction with other nominees for the 1978 Booker Prize, like Jane Gardam's God on the Rocks and Kingsley Amis's Jake's Thing, really does give you this impression of 70s England as a place of small towns, insular gossip, hostility to new ideas, and a preoccupation with quotidian concerns over any sense of the wider world. In a sense, fair enough – but one does slightly yearn for a little more ambition and pizzazz in the novelling world. By comparison, Iris Murdoch's The Sea, T ...more
Eddie Watkins
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-fiction
I started to read this because I was in the mood for a cozy book about a quaint English village bookshop, but soon found out I was in for something else altogether. While there are those touches of quaint cozy English village life (of which I know nothing personally), it's mainly about the rancor and spite that rises to the surface of the village when the bookshop opens.

It's a small book, not overly ambitious, but it's also perfectly proportioned and written with a master's touch. There's a qui
...more
Margitte
A small village, Hardborough, hardly surviving the harsh salted air and erosion of the ocean, becomes the choice for a new book shop to be opened by a widow, Florence Green. By all intentions, in 1959, it could have been an asset to the town, but it is soon obvious that Mrs. Green overstepped social boundaries by buying a building that Mrs. Violet Gamart, wife of general Gamart RET, wanted for other purposes. Besides this unforgivable faut pas, Mrs. Green also unknowingly interferes with the soc ...more
Lynne King
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable story about an ordinary woman, Florence Green, who in 1959, decides to open a bookshop in a small East Anglia coastal town - Hardborough. Does she succeed though? All I will say is that she had to contend with local opposition. Also remember we are talking about a different era, pre-internet. Booksellers then worked extremely hard and did not necessarily make financial gains. Their love of books gave them one incentive - to encourage everyone to read.

I've never forgotten the
...more
Libros Prestados
Un caramelo envenenado.

Parece un libro sencillo, alegre y divertido sobre la vida en un pueblecito y se descubre como una descripción descarnada de las luchas de poder en las poblaciones pequeñas, siempre conservadoras y deudoras de los poderes establecidos, de los caciques de costumbre.

Abstenerse gente que crea en un mundo mejor, o que le frustre que las personas que se lo merecen no siempre reciban lo que se merecen.
David
If you asked me to choose a writer particularly skilled at illustrating the latent nastiness that lurks in small provincial towns, my first choice would probably be a French author -- either Balzac or de Maupassant. The cruelties and resentments of village life are recurrent themes in their work -- a good illustration is one of de Maupassant's earliest and best-known stories, Boule de Suife , which paints a devastating picture of the meanness and nastiness that characterizes the behavior of the ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
1.5 stars

The back of this book says that The Bookshop was 'shortlisted for the Booker Prize but unfortunately, to me, it sucked. I'm the first to admit some books are a bit over my head or I don't always get it, but in this case, I clearly GOT it, it just wasn't that good. I would have dished out two stars too, but the ending ruined that and left me in a bad mood.

The main reason this book almost didn't get finished (I would have abandoned if it wasn't so short), is that it was boring. Seriously
...more
Kelly
Not your fault, Penelope. Just read one too many repressed-English-lady-in-a-closed-society stories in a row I think. Instead of the connection and recognition I typically feel, I came out the other side of predicting the words you were going to say with the face of the enemies that you spend much of the book fighting. Which means I need a break from you lovely ladies- as overidentified with you as I am- even I can need, like Charlotte, a little more air to breathe and I can't appreciate going o ...more
Julie Ehlers
There seem to be a lot of reviews complaining that The Bookshop is depressing. I don't understand that viewpoint at all. This book was hilarious. It's all about the humor of having diminished expectations and still being unable to live up to them. Perhaps I shouldn't think too hard about why that appeals to me. Four stars.
Vipassana
A few weeks ago I read Walter Benjamin's essay, Critique of Violence. The depth and rigour of his analysis was exacting and ultimately very rewarding. Along with the entire essay, I tweeted a line from it - For a cause, however effective, becomes violent, in the precise sense of the word, only when it bears on moral issues. Someone said that they didn't understand it and someone else misunderstood it and asked me several irrelevant questions. It left me thinking, how do you explain an alternate ...more
Lela
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was simply written with some interesting characters. Having lived in a small English town for several years, I could appreciate some of the realities of hierarchy and subtle bullying. Mrs Green had every chance of making her bookshop dream come true if not for the machinations of the "woman of the manor." The young girl who helped in the shop was delightful in her open manner and take charge attitude. Families like hers fostered children who were more like miniature adults. The ending ...more
Amanda
I was a bit disappointed in this one. I expected to really love it. It's about books and a bookstore and it takes place in England which are three of my favorite things but somehow it just didn't work for me. There isn't anything wrong with it. It's well enough written I just couldn't connect at all. I couldn't get invested in the characters or the outcome. Perhaps the fault lies with me and not the book. I will give this author another chance soon.
Ivan
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What an ugly little book this is. The town seems ugly, not at all picturesque (at least as described), and the people who live in it are even worse; small minded, uncultured, unfriendly and toady. Why would anyone want to live there, or choose to open a business there?

I’m afraid I didn’t much care for this bleak and uncompromisingly downbeat novel. I found I couldn’t even feel bad for the protagonist who seemed a rather silly sort who opens a book shop on a whim (not from a love of books).

*spo
...more
Amy
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a certain type of novel where the strength of the writing is not in the action, or the mystery or the excitement of the plot, but in the evocative nature of the words- the very plainness and chronicling of ordinary times for ordinary people. No tidy wind up of happy endings...

It reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge, who once. in describing herself said, "I am not a serious chronicler of the very terrible contemporary scene, but just a storyteller. There is so much tragedy about us everywhere
...more
Diane
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have enjoyed this novella more if it wasn't so sad. Florence Green decides to open up a bookshop in an old house in a small English town. Things go well at first, and Florence even starts a lending library. Unfortunately, one of the society ladies in town has her own plans for that building and does everything in her power to undermine the shop. The novel is amusing in its depictions of small-town life and politics, but it is so bittersweet that several times I sighed in frustration. Che ...more
Jonfaith
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My expectations were a bit Pym-ish. The Bookshop promised all sorts of apt visions, austerity, widows, spinsters, modernity, the Church. Well there traces of such harbored within, but the bend bent elsewhere. I was actually reminded of Murdoch's Sandcastles, the provincials backbiting like crabs, human spirit crushed by petty jealousy. It was perfect day for this here: cats and dogs all day.
Paula
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
El final me ha parecido un poco precipitado, pero por lo demás... 
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Bookshop' is a little story of an ordinary woman, Florence Green, in 1959 England with a little money. She decides to open a bookstore in a little village which has no bookstore. With a great deal of innocence and no savvy, she overcomes a number of obstacles - a bank loan, buying a run-down house, having no previous ties to the community - and opens her store. Tourists like the store!

It doesn't take long before a variety of village folk notice. The local Establishment (an aristocratic fam
...more
Luís C.
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 ...more
Laurel Hicks
When I started this book I thought, "Oh, another nice Miss Read." When I finished, I just sat still for a while. She gave me the same feeling I had after reading Henry James's Washington Square. Oh, the cruelty! Fitzgerald is a new author to me. I'm going to start looking for her other books.
Colleen
Apr 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margaret
This is a small, but lovely book. I say "small" rather than "short" (though it is, at only about 120 pages) because like Austen, Fitzgerald works in miniature here. The plot is simple -- Florence Green starts a bookshop in a small English town, and Fitzgerald examines the repercussions of her decision and its effects on herself and the other inhabitants of the town.

For me, this turned out an interesting example of how reading tastes can change over the years. When I started it, I remembered bel
...more
Rowena
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Kirsty
Shelves: contemporary
A simple story of a widow trying to open a bookstore in her small town while being met with so much opposition. Nothing really spectacular happens in the book but it was interesting to see how a small town operates. The story is definitely very realistic. I enjoyed some of the characters, especially the children. A very quick read.
Inés
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No he conseguido disfrutar de esta lectura,tal vez no he elegido el mejor libro de Fitzgerald para estrenarme con ella,o quizá, si este es su estilo habitual,no es para mí.
Connie
The widow Florence Green opened a small bookshop in a haunted old building in a Suffolk village. Unfortunately Mrs Gamart, a wealthy woman with political connections, was not pleased. Although the Old House had been vacant for over five years, Mrs Gamart now wanted it for an Arts Center. This small book is a look at English village life in 1959, and the attempt of the kind Mrs Green to survive. She doesn't stand a chance against the powerful, conniving people who want her to vacate the building. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this book by flashlight during a winter storm where we were without power for 36 hours. Brr! I'm just posting about it now because it was part of my Books on the Nightstand Postal Bookswap, where six of us have been sending books in a circle for a year. Now that the circle has closed, I can make sure these books are counted in my 2016 reads.

This is a slight book, more of a novella, about a woman who decides to open a book shop in a fictional coastal town in Suffolk. But rather than this b
...more
Nicole
Actually maybe more like 4, but not the same four as the Gardam. Stars, schmarz.

There was nothing really wrong with this, but yet somehow it did not gel. It picked up a bit right near the very end, I was quite taken up by the outrage of Mr. Brundish, and the small tragedy that followed, but somehow, overall, it wasn't quite....it wasn't quite.

I would definitely read this author again, however, as there was much to like, and I think this is a fairly early effort. I hear good things about Offsho
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bibliophilia
What a fantastic book - even the terrible, TERRIBLE ending!!! Oh, so sad....

Bah, small towns. But boy, Florence made a run at it. Love the wry (perfect word, Elizabeth!) humour throughout, and the letters between Florence and her good-for-nothing lawyer, hah!

So I guess this would be equal parts dry comedy, farce, ghost story and town-and-country vignette, with a dash of satire. Lolita was a nice touch. Nods to Dickens throughout,too.

Lovely. Even tho' the ending was TERRIBLE, did I say? ;-)


Jae
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A humorous satire of small-minded people, this is a beautifully written and bittersweet story by Penelope Fitzgerald. It's a perfect book for a rainy day and can be read in a few hours. It draws you into a small perfectly-pitched world then sends you off with a sad gentle nudge that leaves you thinking.
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Penelope Fitzgerald was an English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, The Blue Flower, as one of "the ten best historical novels".

Fitzgerald was the author of nine novels. Her novel Offshore was the winner of the Booker Prize. A further three novels — The B
...more
More about Penelope Fitzgerald...
“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity.” 56 likes
“Morality is seldom a safe guide for human conduct.” 20 likes
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