The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald was shortlisted for the 1978 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 takes on not only self-important figures of authority, but natural and supernatural forces too. In a world of disappointment and poltergeists, our self-effacing heroine keeps her spirits up and her books dry in the damp, seeping landscape.
‘Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality – the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window.’ Sebastian Faulks
The Art of Bookselling
Just as most good books aren’t really about the things they say they are, Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop (1978) isn’t really about a bookshop. It’s about English insularity, politics, the...Read more
One of the Regulars
At the back of Penelope Fitzgerald’s only short-story collection, The Means of Escape (2000), there is a charming black-and-white photograph of the author. It shows her buttoned into a...Read more
Cutting it Fine
Early twentieth-century Moscow is the setting for The Beginning of Spring, indeed its central presence. To Frank Reid, émigré printer’s son, its weird bureaucracy, endemic espionage and...Read more
A Victorian Quartet
Last spring, I visited the hamlet of Knill, deep in the Herefordshire countryside. Knill lies on the river Lug, a tributary of the Wye, and in the 1930s Penelope Fitzgerald’s father, Eddie Knox,...Read more
Love and Miss Lotti
Was anyone ever as singular as Charlotte Mew? Mannish, gruffish, diminutive, she ranged about London in her tailor-mades and cropped hair and rolled her own cigarettes, possibly with the discarded...Read more