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valoraciones:
3.5/5 (72 valoraciones)
Longitud:
173 páginas
2 horas
Publicado:
Jun 6, 2018
ISBN:
9788417115388
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Florence decide abrir una pequeña librería, que será la primera del pueblo. Adquiere así un edificio que lleva años abandonado, comido por la humedad y que incluso tiene su propio y caprichoso poltergeist.
Pero pronto se topará con la resistencia muda de las fuerzas vivas del pueblo que, de un modo cortés pero implacable, empezarán a acorralarla.
Florence se verá obligada entonces a contratar como ayudante a una niña de diez años, de hecho la única que no sueña con sabotear su negocio.
Cuando alguien le sugiere que ponga a la venta la polémica edición de Olympia Press de Lolita, de Nabokov, se desencadena en el pueblo un terremoto sutil pero devastador.
Publicado:
Jun 6, 2018
ISBN:
9788417115388
Formato:
Libro

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3.7
72 valoraciones / 67 Reseñas
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Reseñas de lectores

  • (2/5)
    It was okay. Kind of boring and it didn't really seem to have a point but it was interesting enough I guess. It had some nice parts.
  • (5/5)
    "Culture is for amateurs."

    It is now de rigueur to declare Fitzgerald as one of the great neglected English novelists of the 20th century, and I must add my voice to that woeful chorus. Her starkly funny - or perhaps humorous upsetting - style is akin to those great ladies Muriel Spark and Barbara Pym. Her characters, like theirs, often hover on the fringes of good society; the "distressed gentlewomen", Pym often calls them.

    Florence Green is one such character, a plain but still reasonably young widow who chooses to open a bookshop in a town that wants to reject her at every turn - even her resident poltergeist wants nothing to do with her. In 10 short chapters, Fitzgerald outlines Florence's unsettling encounters with the townfolk in wry, pointed notes, never allowing us to become either sympathetic or deeply enmeshed in the lives of any of them. Its events are of no consequence, and yet somehow feel staggeringly consequential. And at the heart of it all are questions about how we appreciate culture, how we relate to books themselves, and why we allow our dreams to take hold of us against all reason.

    A deeply enjoyable read for fans of ironic British novelists.
  • (4/5)
    As I had seen the movie the previous summer, this rather interfered with my reading as comparisons would be made. Surprisingly I liked the movie better, perhaps the only time this has happened. Not the least of which for the somewhat happy ending of the movie that is missing from the abrupt conclusion of the novella. Mostly the movie kept very close to the text of the story, but somehow added greater depth to the characters. On its own I found this novella well paced with lovely prose and lots of understated humour, but again sparse on the characterization -- which perhaps is to be expected in a short work. Nice but not great.
  • (4/5)
    A quirky little book about quirky people in a quirky little town in England. A delight to read and enjoy.
  • (4/5)
    Charming and delightful if somewhat forgettable, a woman opens a bookshop in a town which doesn't really want one, except for an old aristocrat no one sees.
  • (2/5)
    I was surprised to learn that Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978, surprised primarily because the book is so short that it does not allow for its multiple characters to be much developed before the book reaches its quick ending. I should say, too, that I stumbled upon the well-received 2017 movie version of the book a few weeks ago and watched that film before reading the novella (it’s between 118 and 163 pages long depending on which edition is chosen). The movie was more depressing than it was sad, but even then I was intrigued enough by some of the characters that I decided to read the book in order to learn more about them and their motivations. But it turns out that, the screen play does a better job of exploring the characters than the book does – and that’s not at all what I expected to find.The Bookshop is the story of Florence Green, a middle-aged widow who in 1959 moves to the fictional English seaside village of Hardborough to open the only bookshop in town. It is only after she buys the Old House and opens the shop that Florence learns that one of the most influential women in Hardborough wants to close her down and use the Old House for her own purposes. It is no small accomplishment that the bookstore ever manages to open its doors in the first place, as the Old House is a damp old wreck when she moves in and is even haunted by the Rapper, a noisy ghost that refuses to vacate the property. Florence does manage to open the doors even though the only hired help she can afford is a ten-year-old girl who comes in on Saturdays and after school every day. Florence, though, gets lucky when the little girl turns out to have excellent organizational skills that can be put to good use in a bookstore – especially a shop whose owner knows so little about running such a place herself. And when Florence decides to feature Vladimir Nabokov’s brand new (to England) novel Lolita in the shop window and sales take off, it looks like she just may make a go of the shop after all. The ruthless Mrs. Gamart, however, never gives up her campaign to rid the Old House of its books and bookstore-owner so that she and those who think like her can convert it into an arts center. She is always there, more or less in the background, pushing others to do her will, and before long Florence is forced to take the threat seriously. Can she actually be evicted from the Old House despite the fact that it is both her only home and source of income? More importantly, will she?Bottom Line: The Bookshop has an interesting story to tell but the sparseness of so many of its characters makes it difficult to believe. That Mrs. Gamart is an amoral woman whose personality intimidates her ex-military officer husband is obvious. What is not so obvious is why a seaside tourist village is filled with so many people just like her. I suspect that if that backstory had been explored in The Bookshop, I would have enjoyed it much more than I did.
  • (4/5)
    NEWS ALERT: Indie bookshops are closing left and right at alarmingly rapid rates everywhere; in both big cities like Chicago and English villages like Hardborough, the latter the quaint setting for Penelope Fitzgerald's, Man Booker shortlisted, second novel, The Bookshop; they're being shut down, the bookshops, as if they were sweatshops run by misers, seemingly every time you scan the morning headlines in Shelf Awarenes.Old news, bookstore closures? It wasn't old news in 1978, when Penelope Fitzgerald published The Bookshop, perhaps adding prescience to the poignancy already in glowing abundance in these bittersweet, but ravenously delectable pages about a courageous, recent widow's dream to do something (and to be somebody) different: Independent for the first time in her life: A bookseller. Brave woman.Florence Green (a pity her last name is so descriptively apt concerning her business acumen), itching for adventure and a means of making her own way in the world for the first time since her husband's death, takes a huge, optimistic gamble, and opens her bookshop in a long-vacated, leaking, draughty and dilapidated, antiquated structure befitting its name - "The Old House" - in an English village with an ominous name of its own: Hardborough. Indeed it's hard starting up any business anywhere, but a bookshop in an establishment as rickety and sodden as the Old House? Can you imagine? Isn't dampness and draught anathema to pulp? Water-stained books are not fast sellers.And isn't location everything too for a bookshop? Florence Green has chosen a site in an everybody-knows-everybody hamlet that has one unpaved road in, and just that same frequently flooded and muddied (when the high-tide rolls in) road out. Might be easy to open a bait-and-tackle shop at such a site, but a bookshop?And did I mention that the Old House is haunted by what the locals term a "rapper"? An entity that, no, does not wear a baseball cap sideways nor work double turntables simultaneously, but whom makes a lot of racket nonetheless. And knocks over books and sticker displays. The ghostly nuisance of such a benign poltergeist!Despite the odds stacked against Florence; and despite Violet Gamart and her uppity political power dead-set against the bookshop, for awhile, with the aid of an eleven year old girl, Christine Gipping, as well a part-time bookkeeper, and the most honorable auspices of the veritable heart and soul of Hardborough itself, Mr. Brundish, Florence Green is able to make a good go with her bookshop, and for a year, she's relatively, surprisingly, successful. Even her lending library is a smash.But not everyone is so thrilled with her success. Surrounding business's are jealous. Violet Gamart, (the Ice-Queen of Hardborough) isn't happy, either, her fairy-tale visions of the Old House becoming an "Arts Centre" for the town thwarted by this naive entrepreneur, Florence Green.Florence Green would've been wiser not to give Christine Gipping, her eleven-year-old, impulsive part-timer, so much authority in the lending library, turns out, especially on the occasion of Violet Gamart's very first visit to the store. Precocious Christine, strictly abiding by the checkout lending rules, "intervenes" rather rudely (but within her rights!) as Violet Gamart attempts to procure for herself a volume out of turn. There's a waiting list, Lady, abide by it! A swift ruler-thwack to Violet's knuckles and...The Old House Bookshop, unfortunately, inevitably is doomed. Sorry to not warn of spoilers, but the book (a novella really) lets you know soon that there won't be a happy ending.Penelope Fitzgerald's style is concise and fast paced, but full like a hearty homecooked meal leaves you full. The book is small, though, diminuitive, a diamond: perfect in equilateral literary geometric dimensions that only enhance its shiniest story sparkle. The Bookshop, in 123 pages, sparkles like that perfect diamond, more rare jewel than slim, rarely read book nowadays...and then some.
  • (4/5)
    With very few words this book sure says a lot! The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald offers, within a slim framework, a tiny glimpse into a fragment of a local community chock-full of small-minded people, and creates a huge impression!When the widow Florence Green - who, in truth, has been existing, rather than living, for the last eight years in the coastal village of Hardborough, East Anglia - decides to open a bookshop in this isolated area, reactions are mixed. In order to succeed at this unusual venture Florence has to overcome a series of obstacles: human, inanimate and preternatural; but chiefly those placed in her path by the district authorities, from her bank manager and her solicitor, to the county society doyenne, Violet Gamart. In what is essentially a concise, but elegantly-detailed construction of Florence's experiences, as she organises the purchase, renovation, opening and daily running of her bookshop, the minutia of life in this damp and dying community also unfolds.This book is probably best described as a sad little tale accentuating, with clever understatement and adroit particulars, the foibles of life in a diminished seaside village – and the endeavours of some of the petty inhabitants to increase, at the expense of others, their inconsequential significance. The genius in the text is the meticulous description of the desultory specifics of local life, thus providing a depth of analysis, intimated delicately between the lines, for the reader to ponder. There is so much more to this tale in what is left unsaid than in what is written. And what is written is just delightful: when Florence sets up in the 'Old House' - named for the fact that it is one of the oldest structures in this already ancient area - the shop is, of course, named "The Old House Bookshop" - how not!This is my first Penelope Fitzgerald – and it won’t be my last. There is an economy of style and degree of skill, in her writing, to depict a mood, an atmosphere, an ambience, that is all the more striking with the brevity of the work. There is nothing uncommon in this small-town situation the author portrays: the fear of the unusual with an intense phobia surrounding any change, any disruption to the status quo. The author has, however, with exceptional ability, created precisely, and concisely, an absorbing tale in regards to such, which is also, on the whole, quite touching.
  • (4/5)
    Everything you could wish to know about small town England is contained in these pages. The book is short because each sentence holds so much. If you don't like short books, I recommend reading this one slowly. The story is about a woman who opens a bookshop, but really it could have been about any other seemingly insignificant event. The beauty of this story is in how casually and deftly the author dishes up biting satire. So mannered, so polite. "My dear, no, of course I didn't mean it that way. So very sorry. More tea?" My cup of tea, anyway. A true pleasure.
  • (3/5)
    In a mere 123 pages Penolope Fitzgerald introduces us to a cast of at least a dozen characters populating a village in Britain's East Anglia. A few deft sentences and we get the look and style of each one. She does this by first evoking a distinct sense of place. It is easy to read this book in a couple of hours. Charmed by the eccentricities of the villagers and the humble courage of Florence Green the reader is lulled into believing all will be well. The betrayals therefore are all the more devastating. This is not a book to read when you are feeling low.
  • (1/5)
    A nasty little village populated by mean and annoying characters. I didn't even like the supposedly "kindly" woman whose dream it was to open the bookshop. She had no love of books whatsoever. The story seemed choppy and not quite fleshed out but I don't think I could have taken anymore along the same lines.
  • (5/5)
    I would love to run a bookshop.By which I mean I would love to live in one, arranging the books just so, dipping in and out of my favourite tomes, discovering new authors and titles as part of my job - what bliss it all seems!But of course, the reality would be rather more challenging: balancing the books, drawing in the customers who who would rather buy online, managing staff and limited resources.At least I would hope to have the support and backing of my local community (although here I think sadly of Kathleen Kelly’s lovely Shop around the Corner in ‘You’ve Got Mail’), but in Penelope Fitzgerald’s quietly fatalistic novel, ‘The Book Shop’, community support is the vital ingredient new bookshop proprietor, Florence Green, lacks.=== The blurb: ===England. 1959. 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 in doing so has crossed those who have made themselves important, such as the formidable Mrs Gamart, and even natural and supernatural forces, too.Her fate will strike a chord with anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.=== What’s it about? ===Spite. Small village politics. Exterminators and exterminees. Showing faith and hope in life spite of the gradual crushing nature of it.=== What’s it like? ===‘The Bookshop’ is a brief tale of life’s casual cruelty.Fitzgerald’s narrative is often gently humorous with an underlying viciousness and concludes with a deeply saddening ending.Held back and plotted against by useless solicitors, jealous neighbours and ambitious local politicians, Florence’s naivety is perhaps best illustrated by her simple belief that: ‘Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have.’Ah, bless you, Florence; if only life were that simple.=== Favourite lines: ===Mr Gill smiles ‘as a toad does, because it has no other expression’.(On Milo North) ‘His emotions, from lack of exercise, had disappeared almost altogether’.=== England. 1959. ===Fitzgerald evokes a world in which power resides firmly with the upper classes and culture means nothing more to her most obviously ‘cultured’ characters than a boost to their social status.More crucially, this is a cruel world which is indifferent towards human endeavour - when it is not actively malign. (Florence must battle a poltergeist as well as malcontents and decaying buildings).=== Final thoughts ===I enjoyed Fitzgerald’s prose and relished the moments when Florence insisted on the vital nature of books and reading. Florence’s downfall is perhaps inevitable, despite the hopes raised along the way, and I suspect Fitzgerald’s final words, and Florence’s final attitude, will stay with me for a very long time.
  • (4/5)
    My expectations were a bit Pym-ish. The Bookshop promised all sorts of apt visions, austerity, widows, spinsters, modernity, the Church. Well there were 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.
  • (4/5)
    A friend put me on to Penelope Fitzgerald a year or two ago, and I read and enjoyed her first novel The Golden Child (1977). It is a satire of life in a cultural institution, this one a museum in the King Tut boom of the 70’s. There was also a funny bumbling Cold War espionage angle. I’ve been picking up her other titles as I see them at Friends of the Library sales, but hadn’t read another until The Bookshop last week. A war widow in late 1950s England resolves to open a book store in the seaside village where she has lived for ten years. Let me try to illustrate how good it is by describing all the ways that the recent movie adaptation was awful. I think the movie was actually longer than the book—you can read the book in about two hours, and it flies. The movie is nine hours long, seemingly, and I only watched about 45 minutes of it.Fitzgerald is entirely clear-eyed, sharp, warm, and very funny. The movie, on the other hand, is ponderous, mawkish, self-important, humorless, and dull. The movie protagonist rhapsodizes about the magical significance of books and stores full of them, which is absent from the novel. In the novel she’s trying to be a businesswoman, and is totally unsentimental about books (as people in the book business actually tend to be). She doesn’t even seem to be particularly well-read. I gather from the preview that the big middle part of the movie which I skipped turned her into a moralizing crusader against censorship in opposition to the rural fuddy-duddies scandalized by Lolita. Penelope Fitzgerald, though, doesn’t moralize.The movie also ruins an interesting relationship by hinting at a totally implausible romance which is absent from the book. And the entire narration (by a grown version of a child character in the book) is a creation of the movie, is execrable, and would make Penelope Fitzgerald vomit in horror if she were alive to hear it. I skipped to the last few minutes of the movie to satisfy my morbid curiosity about what they would do to the ending and thereby stoke my burning hatred for everyone involved (except of course Bill Nighy, who has license from me to do whatever he wants at any time). I will give what little credit is due: They ruined the ending in a totally inexplicable, incomprehensible, and out-of-nowhere way, instead of ruining it in the way you expected. Avoid the movie with extreme prejudice.The book, on the other hand, is recommended.
  • (2/5)
    What on earth was the Booker committee thinking when they shortlisted this? More to the point, why do all these other 'community' reviewers think this is such a good book? These questions suggest that I am out of step with the rest of the world, which of course is true, but I think there is also some other factor at play. Many people describe this as humerous, but I'd be surprised if I smiled more than once in the hundred or so pages that I read before pulling the plug. Humour is, after all, a very personal thing. I wonder if the book is also somewhat dated now? I also felt as though none of the characters was treated with sufficient depth for my liking. I suspect I might have given it a higher rating if I had continued to the end, but I'm just too old to spend time on anything that isn't giving an adequate return for my investment (thanks for permission, Nancy Pearl).
  • (1/5)
    I finally abandoned this as too depressing midway through.
  • (3/5)
    This is a nice little story. Its amusing and very proper. However, the conclusion left me asking what the point?
  • (4/5)
    You can tell this book was written by a poet. It’s also obvious that the writer couldn’t be from the US. This novel of the daily life in a conservative British town is as stifling as the conservative politics behind the motives of the town leaders and hangers on.
  • (4/5)
    Lovely, gentle, sad book. I purchased it after seeing the film, and feeling that something was a little "off" with the adaptation. Reading the book confirmed that. Very little happens in the book - Florence Green, widow, uses her small capital to purchase The Old House (damp and haunted) and open a bookshop in a small East Anglian town. However she doesn't quite fit in and despite support from a number of other outsiders (Raven, Wally the sea scout, her small assistant Christine and the reclusive Mr Brundish) she is no match for the local power in the form of Mrs Gamart who cannot bear to see someone else succeed. Beautiful writing and very delicate and gentle. The film overplayed and exaggerated almost everything - read the book instead.
  • (4/5)
    The prejudices and idiosyncrasies of provincial, small-town people are illustrated perfectly and amusingly in this short novel. They really do not deserve a bookshop or a bookseller in their town. Florence Green need not hang her head in shame.
  • (2/5)
    I adore books about books and libraries and bookshops, so I had really high hopes for this novel. Plus it's going to be a movie, it's got to be good right? Wrong. This books started out with promise. A middle aged widow decides she wants to open up a bookshop in her sleepy little coastal town. What could go wrong? Everything. The townspeople were bitches. She had one good neighbor and one good assistant (who was eleven and adorable), but pretty much everyone else set out to make sure she failed. And just wait til you get to the bloody end. Save yourself the pain of disappointment and skip over this.
  • (3/5)
    This is a tough one. It's ostensibly a very good book, but I (a) wasn't swept away with an overriding desire to read/finish it, and (b) was left in a somewhat disturbed state by it all. Which is probably a good thing, in one way, but it doesn't vault such a book into favourite status by any means. For someone who loves books (as I do) and generally wants their protagonists to succeed (I'm empathic!), this is a hard case, like animal lovers reading about doggy torture, or parents reading about terminal children.

    I read this in response to a Goodreads request--I'd finished Hotel du Lac (where very little happens) and wondered who else wrote in a low-stakes kind of idiom. Fitzgerald was suggested, so I gave it a whirl. But while Brookner's book was at times humorous and delightful, and, say, Barbara Pym even more so, this one just felt bleak. Bleak and sad. Bleak, sad, and kind of cruel, like Lars Von Trier's Dogville but with a bookshop owner instead of Nicole Kidman.

    When I wanted small, I guess I wanted small and sweet, not small and unbelievably depressing.

    So three stars from me, sigh. But if she's written anything more cheerful, I'm definitely up for it!
  • (4/5)
    Great until the ending, which I though came off a bit rushed.
  • (4/5)
    Penelope Fitzgerald is one of those writers who is perversely famous for having been overlooked for most of her career, until she won a major prize late in life and everyone started saying how good her early works were. This is one of those early works, her second, from 1978, a charming little story about a widow who opens a bookshop in a small coastal town in Suffolk in the late 1950s (it sounds to be loosely based on Southwold), and unintentionally finds herself in conflict with the local Lucia, Mrs Gamas. Under the veneer of provincial social comedy there's a potent, but very understated, layer of mockery of English philistinism, but it's also about another very English quirk, the pleasure of fighting losing battles. Definitely worth a look.
  • (4/5)
    Summary: Florence Green, whom life seems to have passed by, dares to open a bookshop in The Old House in a seaside village in East Anglia. She takes on the polite but ruthless local opposition, the disintegrating old house and the supernatural in her endeavour. However, 1959 is not a kind year to widows opening small businesses.First off, the writing is beautiful. Fitzgerald cultivates a small but clever cast of personalities, with a gentle gradation of character development. To quote the TLS from the back cover: "Fitzgerald's resources of odd people are impressively rich". At 153 pages, this is definitely one of the shortest books I have read since I graduated from the Famous Five and Secret Seven. However, I'm not sure that added length would add anything to the novel, as we focus only on Florence's time in the village. In a larger work covering all of Florence's life, her time in the village would probably occupy this many pages, so in a sense it's not small at all, just precisely focussed.There's not much of a plot but that is a pleasant change for me, given that I usually read very plot-driven novels (e.g. Clive Cussler). We pass ten years in Florence's company (almost exclusively), in a succession of episodes and moments which introduce us to some strange people with peculiar motivations. Some of them threaten to descend to farce (particularly the old man who keels over dead in the market square), but poor Florence remains fixed solidly in realism throughout.One character who is exquisitely captured is young Christine. The ten-year-old bookshop assistant is proud and proper but smacks a customer over the hand with a ruler. She confides in Florence and listens to her, but runs off in a huff when her schooling takes an unfortunate twist. Like Marcus in About A Boy and Alan Bradley's spectacular efforts with Flavia, Christine is a beautiful child who springs off the page into the reader's heart.The villagers are an odd mob and are strangely set against Florence - whether this is due to the interference of the village's most prominent member of society is not quite clear, which adds to the charm; the reader cannot be sure of the minor characters' motivations. I'm still confused by Milo North. The poltergeist embodies the village spirit, in that he is loudest and most disruptive when Florence is successful. I was apprehensive about the introduction of the poltergeist, but it was neatly done. Fitzgerald has a gentle touch with irony, and it lightens the sombre mood regularly.I had some questions which were not answered (the circumstances of her being widowed, what her connection to the village is or why she moved there), and they are not answered precisely because the focus is only on her time in the village. However, the answers aren't important.Favourite quotes: "She had a kind heart, though that is not of much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation." "She had been trusted, and that was not an everyday experience in Hardborough" "Her disappointment, however, endeared her to the shopkeepers of Hardborough. They had all known better, and could have told her so." "Gentleness is not kindness. His fluid personality tested and stole into the weak places of other until it found it could settle down to its own advantage" "Lord Gosfield was touched, though he had said nothing all evening, and had in fact driven the hundred odd miles expressly to say nothing in the company of his old friend Bruno"I would definitely be interested in reading more FitzGerald after this, and I hope someone decides to make a film out of this - I can just see Jennifer Ehle, Helen Blaxendale or even Helena Bonham-Carter bustling about a little bookshop with the grey East Anglian sea in the background...Reviews from other bloggers: dovegreyreader, Savidge Reads, Novel Insights, Sasha and the Silverfish, The Mookse and the Gripes
  • (4/5)
    After reading Offshore, had to read more of Penelope Fitzgerals's book. The Bookshop is equally good. But I'm beginning to wonder if there is ever an upbeat ending. I'll have to keep reading, because her writing is so beautiful.
  • (5/5)
    This is an excellent little book that packs a big emotional wallop into just slightly more than 100 pages. Florence Green is a widower with a small inheritance who decides to open a bookshop in a small seaside town in England.Fitzgerald's writing reminds me of William Maxwell's. Both writers use words economically, but precisely. Both seem to emphasize character over plot. Both are stunningly good.There's a quote on the back cover of this book that I think sums it up nicely. (I don't usually quote cover text, but this seems appropriate.)"Balzac, an expert on how nasty people can be to one another in small country places, once said that the ordinariness of human lives can never be a measure of the effort it takes to keep them going. Anyone who has found this to be true will admire Florence Green for her wit and her innocent courage, a courage that comes from simply choosing to survive."I think this story will haunt me for a while.
  • (4/5)
    I picked this book up a while back because (a) the author had been recommended to me, and (b) I'd won another of her books in a ferret-naming competition, so I was keeping an eye out for what else she'd written. I was attracted by the cover, and I love bookshops, so it was an easy decision to buy.Last night, I was struggling with a non-fiction book, and just wanted some fiction which was easy to get into. I chose this one, largely because it was a short book, so I thought we would be straight into the plot. And we were. Before I reached the bottom of the first page, the main character was starting to form in my mind. By the end of the second page, the groundwork was laid for the plot. A masterful beginning.I'm afraid I rather raced through the book, as I was eager to learn how the story progressed. Being set in 1959, there was a distinct class divide in the town, but with hints of the way this was beginning to change in British society. But at its base is a stonking good story, with some characters you are rooting for, some you are booing from the sidelines, and some you can't quite make out, with a good dollop of gentle humour. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Very often I was reminded of The Remains of the Day while reading this book. There is the same melancholy acceptance of the way things are, though the way may not be fair. But in The Bookshop, Florence Green, the protagonist, does try to change the way things are. The story doesn't relay on Florence Green's success or failure though. It relies on the reader's ability to hold the hope that just because something has always been one way doesn't mean it has to always be one way.
  • (4/5)
    In 1959, a middle aged woman opens a bookshop in an East Anglian village - unwittingly crossing the village's self-styled doyenne of the arts in the process. The story unfolds from there, first as a genteel comedy of manners, and later with a darker, sadder twist. Early on, the narrator suggests that Florence (the shop owner) is naive not to think that people are "divided into exterminators and exterminatees, with the former, at any given moment, predominating". The word 'exterminator' seems overstated at the time, but becomes apter. The book is wittily written and I enjoyed reading it. I did feel that the ending all came about rather suddenly, and unexpectedly different in tone from what had gone before - but then, this is the same way that it was experienced by Florence, so I suppose we are experiencing that along with her. But for me, it didn't really live up to the rave reviews - it was a bit too light.