Penelope Fitzgerald || The Bookshop & Offshore

I had never heard of Penelope Fitzgerald; she became known as a writer when she was already in her sixties. In my defense: she won the Booker Prize in 1978, the year I started studying English literature at university. At that time I was not as yet tuned in to the Booker and mostly read the books required for my studies (quite a lot as you can imagine). Having been alerted to her (The Bookshop has been translated into Dutch recently) and finding her novels on the short side, I immediately read and loved two of them: The Bookshop and Offshore. In both novels Fitzgerald delicately describes life in a small community: the village in which a bookshop is opened and the London shore of the ThamesĀ that is home to a group of houseboat owners. In neither novel a lot happens; they mostly deal with daily life and daily problems, big and small. Fitzgerald does manage to pinpoint at the injustices. The leading lady of the village who expects to be obeyed when she expresses the desire to claim the shop for her own purpose. And who expertly and subtly arranges for others to effect her revenge, The boat owners who have chosen life at the edge of society but find themselves scorned and in some cases pushed back into society against their will. People are just supposed to act as society expects of them and should not express individuality and uniqueness. Change has started to arrive, too late however for the main characters of The Bookshop and Offshore. Fitzgerald does not paint a pretty picture, both novels do not end particularly well. She has left us some beautiful descriptions of small communities in a changing world though.

bookshopoffshore

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About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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One Response to Penelope Fitzgerald || The Bookshop & Offshore

  1. BookerTalk says:

    Offshore was one of the first books I read in my Booker project, like yiu I had never heard of her previously. I didn’t like it though and wasn’t motivated to read her again. Glad you enjoyed her though

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