Book Review: The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

The cover image of The Bookshop

Author: Penelope Fitzgerald

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Mariner Books; Revised ed. edition (June 9, 2015)

ISBN-10: 9780544484092

ISBN-13: 978-0544484092

Buy it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound


Source: I purchased this book.


In 1959 Florence 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.

This new edition features an introduction by David Nicholls, author of One Day.


“Surely you have to succeed, if you give everything you have.”

“Gentleness is not kindness. His fluid personality tested and stole into the weak places of others until it found it could settle down to its own advantage.”

My Thoughts

Fast Read, Frustrating, Heartbreaking

The Bookshop is a well-written story.  The main character, Florence Green, is a strong-willed lady with the idea of opening a bookshop, in Hardborough, in 1959.  She faces many obstacles and injustices along the way.  However, If you are looking for a happy ending to this story, you have the wrong book. Overall, The Bookshop, is a sad book, beginning, middle, and end. There is no happiness to be found in this book which made it a bit difficult to digest.


Pace: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Plot / Conflict: ❤ ❤ ❤

Characters: ❤ ❤ ❤

Setting: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Enjoyability: ❤ ❤

Ease of Reading: ❤ ❤ ❤

Overall Rating:


About the Author

Penelope Fitzgerald, author of The BookshopPenelope Fitzgerald was an English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, The Blue Flower, as one of “the ten best historical novels”.

Fitzgerald was the author of nine novels. Her novel Offshore was the winner of the Booker Prize. A further three novels — The BookshopThe Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels — also made the shortlist.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford University, from which she graduated in 1938 with a congratulatory First.