By: Penelope Fitzgerald
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
From the Booker Prize-winning author of Offshore, The Blue Flower and Innocence comes this Booker Prize-shortlisted story of books and busybodies in East Anglia.
This, Penelope Fitzgerald’s second novel, was her first to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is set in a small East Anglian coastal town, where Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. ‘She had a kind heart, but that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation.’
Hardborough becomes a battleground, as small towns so easily do. 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. This is a story for anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.
Please bear with me in this review, I thought I had written notes down when I had finished reading it but I guess not. This book had been cropping up in my radar for some time and it sounded interesting so I decided to pick it up (also, in the event I ever get around to watching the movie).
Well, this novel was strange and fascinating in that for such a small town there are a lot of people who are against Florence opening a bookshop. Reading it at the time I couldn’t quite wrap my head as to why they were so violently opposed to it; there was of course an element of self-interest involved as there were some characters who wanted the property she set up her bookshop for themselves. But the other townspeople, why were they so opposed to a shop that sold books? Because of their suspicion of learning, of what books potentially contain? Because of their own lack of education?
Anyway, no kidding this book was rather sad. It was overall a short read but it left me with plenty to think about.