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Sjusamillabakka There is strength and beauty in the margins, where we easily, maybe deliberately, fail to look While I was reading this, I came across an archaic Shetland fishermen s taboo word, sjusamillabakka, for the shifting, liminal space betwixt land and sea Sjusamillabakka is perfect for this book Geographically set in a small, remote coastal town, on an island between sea and river Connectedly every fifty years or so it had lost, as though careless or indifferent to such things, Sjusamillabakka There is strength and beauty in the margins, where we easily, maybe deliberately, fail to look While I was reading this, I came across an archaic Shetland fishermen s taboo word, sjusamillabakka, for the shifting, liminal space betwixt land and sea Sjusamillabakka is perfect for this book Geographically set in a small, remote coastal town, on an island between sea and river Connectedly every fifty years or so it had lost, as though careless or indifferent to such things, another means of communication river navigability, bridge, railway, and tidal wall Chronologically between the starchy 50s and the swinging 60s Socially a town with clear class boundaries except for Florence Like a governess, a bookseller is too educated to be lower class, but payment means she s NQOTD Not Quite Our Type, Dear Supernaturally the ebb and flow of rappers poltergeists, not Eminem or Jay Z , mirrors Florence s situation But this is not a ghost story They re an occasional metaphor A heron flying across the estuary and trying, while it was on the wing, to swallow an eel The eel, in turn, was struggling to escape The indecision expressed by both creatures was pitiable They had taken on too much Don t judge Are you talking about culture the bank manager said, in a voice half way between pity and respect Few want to admit to class based snobbery, but is cultural or literary snobbery any different I was reading this in a small amphitheatre The acoustics mean that you sometimes catch snippets of conversations quite far away Two men in their early 20s, roughly dressed and rougher spoken, were chatting I was trying to focus on this novel, but I learned that both had been in prison, one was a recovering alcoholic, and the other had mental health issues Fights, drugs, and gangs were mentioned And gaming I pictured a shoot em up But no, Lord of the Rings They went on to compare the games with the films and the book At that point, I couldn t read mine their passion for books, not just LotR, could not be ignored Should not be ignored I silently bowed my head in shame.Redemption is possible LotR is about doggedly keeping going, clinging to hope however slippery it is, rather than surrendering to the deceptively welcoming arms of despair Books can be a pathway through that valley of shadows, to a brighter future beyond BooksFlorence has faith in the power of books to improve individuals and the community, but less faith in herself She s stoical and sometimes assertive But she s usually reactive, rather than proactive she s not a natural businesswoman And she doesn t trust her own judgement of literary merit, so we never learn much about her own tastes Books matter, but this is at least as much a portrait of a community People judge and are judged by who reads what The books themselves play along when new stock arrives, they fell into their own social hierarchy , the cheap paperbacks being brightly democratic and in well disciplined ranks.Few titles are mentioned, with a major exception, Lolita see my review HERE It s a good book and therefore you should try to sell it They won t understand it, but that is all to the good Understanding makes the mind lazy That s back to snobbery.Don t read this for plotIn many ways, nothing much Happens, and what does, is mostly offstage, and sometimes of uncertain agency to those affected But it s not frustrating or incomplete.In a small coastal village in Suffolk, a childless, middle aged, lower middle class widow decides to open a bookshop She s a relative newcomer having lived there for less than ten years , and although 1959 was the cusp of great social and economic change, Hardborough lags no fish and chip shop, no launderette, and cinema only two Saturdays per month More significantly, not everyone is keen on her converting the Old House into a bookshop, and some actively want to stop her That s it And not Small town political machinations Even selling the scandalous Lolita is a bit of a damp squib Maybe don t read it for the endingUnderstated, unexpected, and gut wrenching Utterly plausible, though But DO read it A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity There sdepth, strength, and occasional waspishness than appears at first glance in the book and in Florence herself, even though she s not really the driving force And when you ve read and loved this, pick up Offshore see my review HERE Like this, it draws on elements of Fitzgerald s own life, and is set in another self contained community of people who are not quite sailors, nor landlubbers The tone and appeal of the two are very similar Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have Although it seems effortlessly natural, I assume Fitzgerald gave everything she had She certainly succeeded in creating a fascinating and believable community I care about Real charactersMy mother still lives in the village where I grew up a somewhat insular community, with its own strict, but unwritten hierarchy, where everyone knows about everyone else, and power is held by venerable families and institutions Although this is set before I was born, I recognise most of the characters affectionate portraits that never quite descend to caricature There is true precision in such writing.Every summer and Easter, we holidayed in another village, a seaside one A home away from home We felt like honorary locals, but I doubt the villagers thought of us that way Fitzgerald describes people from there, too.Before I started primary school, most of the UK stopped selecting pupils for either academic or vocational secondary education, and went comprehensive But the 11 exam much mentioned in these pages is still used where we live, and our child went through it I have seen its effects for good and ill, nothingpainful or decisive One aim was social mobility, but it can entrench privilege A girl who doesn t pass will be pegging out her own washing until the day she dies.At the other end of the social scale, General Gamart s hovering experimentally at his wife s party could almost be because he was becalmed beyond the familiar waters of Wodehouse From long habit, Mrs Gamart rejected the idea that her husband might be necessary for anything There s another person who would be at home in an Iris Murdoch novel tentacles extending far outside the community, with indirect ability to affect the lives of all, while maintaining the veneer of vague disinterest and occasional philanthropy That person is balanced by the quiet, mostly unseen goodness of another, who also has unseen roots of information and possibly influence They recognise each other s power, but who will prevail Quotes Rooks circled in the warring currents of the air She had recently come to wonder whether she hadn t a duty to make it clear to herself and possibly to others, that she existed in her own right Her winter coat, which was of the kind that might just be made to last another year She drank some of the champagne, and the smaller worries of the day seemed to stream upwards as tiny pinpricks through the golden mouthfuls and to break harmlessly and vanish The hall breathed the deep warmth of a house that has never been cold The light struck the sluggish glass of a large venetian mirror His fluid personality tested and stole into the weak places of others until it found it could settle down to its own advantage One can have a very satisfactory party all by oneself if in the right frame of mind Looking critically round the hall, as though it were an outlying province of his territory which he rarely visited Reclusive Mr Brundish at home A brilliant, successful and stupid young man He s an MP He went through life with singularly little effort What seemed delicacy in him was usually a way of avoiding trouble what seemed like sympathy was the instinct to prevent trouble before it started Shabby, hardly presentable, he was not the sort of figure who could ever lose dignity At the age of ten and a half she knew, for perhaps the last time in her life, exactly how everything should be done Though her visitor might be conducting the conversation according to some kind of rules, they were not the ones she knew Defeat is less unwelcome when you are tired Possible Alternative Real Life EndingA man won a profitable bookshop in a raffle, and then decided to run it with an Icelandic friend he only known online maybe from GR, who knows Adaptation of 2017I ve only just seen the film It looks pretty, there s a good cast, having Christine as narrator is fine, and the revised ending was apt But there were too many things that did not transfer well to screen, and thus served as a distraction inconsistent and incorrect accents, scenery that clearly wasn t Norfolk, the village looking far too small for the number of a controversial book Florence stocks, the love angle being exaggerated, and the vendetta seeming less plausible than on the page Details on imdb here 1.5 starsThe back of this book says that The Bookshop was shortlisted for the Booker Prize but unfortunately, to me, it sucked I m the first to admit some books are a bit over my head or I don t always get it, but in this case, I clearly GOT it, it just wasn t that good I would have dished out two stars too, but the ending ruined that and left me in a bad mood The main reason this book almost didn t get finished I would have abandoned if it wasn t so short , is that it was boring Seriously 1.5 starsThe back of this book says that The Bookshop was shortlisted for the Booker Prize but unfortunately, to me, it sucked I m the first to admit some books are a bit over my head or I don t always get it, but in this case, I clearly GOT it, it just wasn t that good I would have dished out two stars too, but the ending ruined that and left me in a bad mood The main reason this book almost didn t get finished I would have abandoned if it wasn t so short , is that it was boring Seriously boring I was excited about a book with a bookshop I love small towns I love elderly women wanting to open a bookshop I love shop rivalry So what was missing Any interest The writing is dry and not to my tastes This didn t help at all, but could be overlooked if the story actually had anything happen in it.There are short bouts of humor I appreciated and enjoyed, but overall it s lackluster The ending is a mega letdown too, not just because life can suck for fictional characters as well as readers, but because view spoiler the most hated woman in the book gets her way and never gets whats coming to her someone who stands up and does what s right and sweet heart putter doesn t get acknowledgment, and in fact the heroine never even learns he stood up for her what s up with that there is a double betrayal for no reason I can see the heroine is a sweet woman who s doing what s right but that doesn t matter hide spoiler The heroine is likeable enough, I suppose, but there s no solid reason for wanting to open a bookstore in the first place She does not even, to me, seem to be that big of a book lover She also has little fight in her The town is narrow minded and bigoted, which can be interesting in itself and loan a decent story, but here it just felt pointless.There s nothing going for the book I wasn t interested in the story despite trying with best efforts, the end was a let down, the beginning slow, the middle without direction There is no climax either It s seriously just suddenly there There s really no point to the novel it s not even a book about failed dreams or anything really, or life lessons learned, it s just a depressing turnout that s not fair and not fair to read about Even the assistant who the heroine cares forwell, I don t see what s so great about the 11 year old She seems rude and distasteful to me.The only thing I did enjoy was the small section for Lolita with the display and letters written back and forth about it Cute stuff.Obviously this isn t a book I can recommend I wish it was, though, I usually dig bookstore and library settings On an unusually upbeat evening, I was winding up from work The recently bought, crisp, intense 300 pages long fictional drama, that I had left, tantalizingly, at the 273rd page the previous night, was softly tip toeing in front of my eyes The unread pages were already floating invitingly in the evening breeze and I could not wait to reach home for resuming the date When I was just stepping into the lift, I received a call from a friend, a bibliophile in fact Hey Do you know they are closin On an unusually upbeat evening, I was winding up from work The recently bought, crisp, intense 300 pages long fictional drama, that I had left, tantalizingly, at the 273rd page the previous night, was softly tip toeing in front of my eyes The unread pages were already floating invitingly in the evening breeze and I could not wait to reach home for resuming the date When I was just stepping into the lift, I received a call from a friend, a bibliophile in fact Hey Do you know they are closing down L Can t believe it man I am I was not listening NoThe words that reverberated, at first, in concentric circles and then, suspended frozen, were closing down That place so many books, so many friends, so many chuckles, so many revelations, so many years, so many memories so much, noThe floating pages dropped dead, the tantalization turned grievous and the upbeat became deadbeat in an instant.For many of us, a bookshop is the second home for some, the first Florence Green was a proud member of the latter category and was on a mission to enroll the sleepy town of Hardborough, Suffolk under the former Sustained, most of her life, by the kinship, the euphoria, the enthusiasm and the solace emanating from brick structures immersed in sagacious thoughts and profound poetry, she waspained than surprised to see that Hardborough, where she had moved after being bared of her familial ties, had no bookshop Promising herself that her forty something frame, both above the shoulders and below them, was steely enough to brave the bureaucratic hurdles and warm enough to spread the literary cuddles, she embarked upon filling this void by opening and running a bookshop from the Old HouseCourage and endurance are useless if they are never testedAnd so were hers The courage and endurance, which lay sheltered under the industrious shields of Christine, her 10 year old meticulous assistant, Ivy, her volatile but ethical accountant, Raven, the vagabond but helpful marshman and Wally, the mischievous courier boy cum cleaner came under trenchant attacks from the ill disposed but politically powerful Mrs Gamart, the supine but acerbic TV anchor, Milo and well, even the poltergeist at the Old House Florence fights, valiantly, through bundles of unsold stock, dwindling helping hands, dilapidating premises, legal impediments and shrinking hope But her internecine fight was not in vain She gained, me.When she continues to deliver free books to the primary schools despite her gloomy financial books, I stand there like a loyal visitor, enad by her desire to spread the sparks of learning When she trounces her duplicitous attorney with an authority that rivals those with the parliamentary sentinels at their disposal, I feel my hands instinctively rise to safeguard her from the legal barrage And when her clamorous ordeal compels Mr Brundish, the recluse boulevardier with highest distinction, to banish his decrepitude, drag his limp body, wound around a walking stick and counter Mrs Gamart with a countenance to bring the wrongdoer to dirt, I could not help but feel proudWill power is useless without a sense of directionBut what direction did Florence choose in the end I don t know because she never told me I guess no one, in her place, would have Because people who love books and bookshops are much like them they don t believe in ends A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity Sometimes you have to fight against ignorance, prejudice and all kinds of malicious gossiping Sometimes you have to allow yourself to go against the flow and make your mark in an ignorant community that blindly follows the way of the money and becomes hostile to the one who wishes to break the mold Sometimes yoA good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity Sometimes you have to fight against ignorance, prejudice and all kinds of malicious gossiping Sometimes you have to allow yourself to go against the flow and make your mark in an ignorant community that blindly follows the way of the money and becomes hostile to the one who wishes to break the mold Sometimes you have to fight against pretentiousness and dishonesty, you have to justify your choices because you dared to make a choice You have to battle with people and ghosts You have to stand your ground because you are an independent woman No matter whether you find yourself as the winner or not, you have earned the right to walk proudly, in dignity and wisdom This is the world of Florence Green in this beautiful, bittersweet novel by Penelope Fitzgerald.1959, Hardborough, East Anglia Florence decides to transform the legendary Old House into a bookshop bookshop , the residents wonder, who needs a bookshop, anyway Apart from the narrow minds of an uneducated, stubborn society, Florence has to fight against the petty ambitions and plans of the local elite, a woman who would put the Devil to shame Perhaps, Nabokov s Lolita can come to the rescue of Florence Perhaps not How can one prevail against such ruthless, vulgar people locked up in a world that has died decades agoOutside it was a clear night and she could see across the marshes to the Laze, marked by the riding lights of the fishing boats, waiting for the low tide But it was cold, and the air stung her face Fitzgerald s prose is sharp, magical and elegant I have difficulty in describing it but it seemed to me like a beautiful, misty English morning in the countryside Magical writing when she describes the town during the blue hour Sharp when she brings the ruthless, misogynist community into focus Elegant when Florence takes over, when her thoughts and her dignified personality stands against the elite of a village that tries to smother anything that is new and progressive Penelope Fitzgerald makes use of the novel that shocked the world when it comes out Nabokov s Lolita is still dividing the reading audience although I fail to understand why I suppose we are educated, progressive and open minded people but I may be wrong, who knows She inserts a brilliant semi subplot with the rapper , a poltergeist that has a mind of its own and lends an aura of mystery in the story I d say that mystery is a continuous feature in the novel as we find out very little about Florence s past or the background of the characters And I loved the fact that we don t get any answers The writer guides us into cold autumn with a beautiful description of Guy Fawkes Night and an even colder winter and drives her story to a realistic closure that demonstrates the results of the fight between evil ambition and an unwavering, resilient spiritShe had a kind heart, though that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self preservation Florence is a wonderful character Wise and determined, down to earth perhaps a bit too much and brave She swims against the current for independence and change, an idealist in the den of illiterate wolves With the exception of Mr Brundish and Mrs Gripping, the rest of the cast is pretty much horrible Perfectly drawn characters but despicable to the core Even the little girl, Christine, is a downright, ungrateful fiend Plain and simple.The Bookshop has become one of the newly discovered classic and rightfully so In our troubled and troubling age, we are in urgent need of stories that may light the way in the darkness the ones in power have createdPersonally, I can t wait to discover Fitzgerald s work in its entiretyThey won t understand it, but that is all to the best Understanding makes the mind lazy My reviews can also be found on My third Fitzgerald and least favourite Essentially, it s about the power struggle between two women Florence is another of Fitzgerald s innocents, doomed to failure A kind of child woman with a good heart but so lacking in practical acumen that opening a bookshop in a sleepy backward seaside village seemslike a wilful act of self harm than an act of aspiration Especially as we re never led to believe Florence has any kind of close affinity with books She does battle with the power br My third Fitzgerald and least favourite Essentially, it s about the power struggle between two women Florence is another of Fitzgerald s innocents, doomed to failure A kind of child woman with a good heart but so lacking in practical acumen that opening a bookshop in a sleepy backward seaside village seemslike a wilful act of self harm than an act of aspiration Especially as we re never led to believe Florence has any kind of close affinity with books She does battle with the power broker Mrs Gamart who wants the property for her own purposes For me it lacked the subtlety of the other two as if Fitzgerald was fed up with being poor and wanted to earn some money It s a book that s tailor made for one of those charming period Sunday evening BBC dramas The characters here are drawn with aheavy handed brush They areobviously plot devices than living people Most crudely personified in Milo, the sophisticated nephew of the novel s villain who works at the BBC but ends up replacing the ten year old Christine as Florence s shop assistant He does what the plot tells him to do, however unlikely The plot is also dependent on its central character s almost preposterous naivety Suspension of disbelief became increasingly difficult to allow for the plot s implausible pivots, neverevident than when she hires Milo as an assistant paying him a pittance or when she s so quick to believe her most staunch supporter has ultimately betrayed her The comedy too can be slapstick, like the series of wish fulfilment letters Florence writes to her pig headed solicitor They are funny but I struggled to believe Florence would write them, another instance of the author bullying her characters into acting out of character for the plot That said, there are lots of fabulous set pieces the anarchy that ensues when Nabokov s Lolita arrives and the poltergeist with whom Florence shares the premises and some very good writing Essentially, it s the one dimensional nature of the characters that lets it down 3 stars Reading this in conjunction with other nominees for the 1978 Booker Prize, like Jane Gardam s God on the Rocks and Kingsley Amis s A small village, Hardborough, hardly surviving the harsh salted air and erosion of the ocean, becomes the choice for a new book shop to be opened by a widow, Florence Green By all intentions, in 1959, it could have been an asset to the town, but it is soon obvious that Mrs Green overstepped social boundaries by buying a building that Mrs Violet Gamart, wife of general Gamart RET, wanted for other purposes Besides this unforgivable faut pas, Mrs Green also unknowingly interferes with the soc A small village, Hardborough, hardly surviving the harsh salted air and erosion of the ocean, becomes the choice for a new book shop to be opened by a widow, Florence Green By all intentions, in 1959, it could have been an asset to the town, but it is soon obvious that Mrs Green overstepped social boundaries by buying a building that Mrs Violet Gamart, wife of general Gamart RET, wanted for other purposes Besides this unforgivable faut pas, Mrs Green also unknowingly interferes with the social leadership of the formidable arts doyenne, Mrs Gamart.Two camps are slowly surfacing and dubious intentions become the name of the game The kindhearted widow, Mrs Green, does not understand the forces at work against her Evil and greed do not make friends, neither do they embrace mercy or kindness Politics is not for the soft hearted Small town politics are seldom for sissies.It is a weird book, since the ending is unexpected The author has this unbelievable eye for detail that constantly blew me away The reality of the ending is fitting, although I was hoping for somethingacceptable I so wanted her, Mrs Green, to live happily ever after Alas, novels do not always end in fairy tales, and this is one of them I think this ending reminds me too much of our own realities which we so often want to escape A good read For sure An excellent writer I think the ending de starred this book, since the prose was really outstanding With another ending this book would not have become an award winner I do believe that the ambiance of the book was to confront and question our own morals and approaches to life and living and the people around us What can we be really proud of in our relationships with other people Where do we fit in, in this small village issues How honest are we What do we really contribute to any group society we are members of We recognize ourselves in this book and find it hard to admit our own roles, hence our aversion to the ending A Rorschach test of reality we do not want to admit or face.So yes, it was good and it was bad It was the truth as we know it It was us It is us As a child I often said to my mother That s not fair She would respond with Life s not fair Florence Green, the main character in The Bookshop, would certainly agree.Florence tried to expand the minds of the inhabitants of Hardborough without success The ethos of this village just wasn t buying it Due to ignorance, cruelty or apathy, the people let Florence know that what she wanted for them was not what they wanted, certainly not Nabokov s controversial Lolita.I loved this story and As a child I often said to my mother That s not fair She would respond with Life s not fair Florence Green, the main character in The Bookshop, would certainly agree.Florence tried to expand the minds of the inhabitants of Hardborough without success The ethos of this village just wasn t buying it Due to ignorance, cruelty or apathy, the people let Florence know that what she wanted for them was not what they wanted, certainly not Nabokov s controversial Lolita.I loved this story and Fitzgerald s style What some have described as sad was, for me, an enjoyable and realistic story about human nature, power, politics, jealousy, and indifference I admired Florence s determination and spunk She ignored Violet s subtle and not so subtle warnings She called her wimpy solicitor a coward Not so admirable was Violet s malevolent determination I loved Christine and Mr Brundish and their relationship with Florence Too bad she didn t know that Brundish supported her to the bitter end.I think Florence will not be deterred Perhaps after a successful enterprise in her future she will send these words back to Hardborough From the song by Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive Do you thin I d crumble Do you think I d lay down and die Oh no, not I, I will survive.Some random quotes that I just really loved She drank some of the champagne, and the smaller worries of the day seemed to stream upwards as tiny pinpricks through the golden mouthfuls and to break harmlessly and vanish.His fluid personality tested and stole into the weak places of others until it found it could settle down to its own advantage.But the Old House Bookshop, like a patient whose crisis is over, but who cannot regain strength, showed less encouraging returns.A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit , embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity {FREE DOWNLOAD} ⚶ The Bookshop à InFlorence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop the only bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town s less prosperous shopkeepers By daring to enlarge her neighbors lives, she crosses Mrs Gamart, the local arts doyenne Florence s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth a town that lacks a bookshop isn t always a town that wants one Sometimes a book ends in such a depressing way that I struggle to recall what went before This is one of those books It makes it difficult to write a balanced review but I will try.I did enjoy most of the book The author writes really well and there are many light moments where she exposes the truth of human nature The dialogue is skilfully done and the main character,Florence Green, always seems to be in charge of the situation She is portrayed as an intelligent, brave and resourceful woma Sometimes a book ends in such a depressing way that I struggle to recall what went before This is one of those books It makes it difficult to write a balanced review but I will try.I did enjoy most of the book The author writes really well and there are many light moments where she exposes the truth of human nature The dialogue is skilfully done and the main character,Florence Green, always seems to be in charge of the situation She is portrayed as an intelligent, brave and resourceful woman and there is a lot of enjoyment in the way she takes on the oppositional townspeople This makes it all thesurprising when, right at the end of the book, things take an unexpected turn It is a realistic ending and one which probably helped get the book listed for an award Sadly for me it was not my kind of an ending