The Bookshop

The Bookshop

First edition
Author Penelope Fitzgerald
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Gerald Duckworth
Publication date
Pages 123 pp
ISBN 0-395-86946-3
OCLC 37155604
823/.914 21
LC Class PR6056.I86 B66 1997

The Bookshop (1978) is a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.[1]


The novel, set mainly in 1959, centres around Florence Green, a middle-aged widow, who decides to open a bookshop in the small coastal town of Hardborough, Suffolk. The location chosen is the Old House, an abandoned, damp house said to be infested by ghosts. After many sacrifices, Florence manages to start her business, which grows for about a year after which sales slump. She is opposed by the influential and ambitious Mrs Gamart, who wants and intends to set up an arts centre in the Old House. Mrs Gamart's nephew, a member of Parliament, sponsors a bill that empowers local councils to buy any historical building that has been left uninhabited for five years. The bill is passed, the Old House is compulsorily purchased, and Florence is evicted.

Critical reception

In a 2010 introduction Frank Kermode noted that the novel, first published in 1978, won Fitzgerald "the respectful attention of reviewers and the admiration of a larger public".[2]


  1. "The Bookshop on Man Booker Prize". The Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  2. Kermode, Frank (2001). The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels, The Blue Flower. London: Everyman. pp. xx. ISBN 1-85715-247-6.

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