|LC Class||PR6056.I86 B66 1997|
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 she chooses is the Old House, an abandoned, damp property said to be haunted by a "rapper" (a poltergeist). 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 to acquire the Old House to set up an arts centre. Mrs Gamart's nephew, a member of parliament, sponsors a bill that empowers local councils to buy any historic building that has been left uninhabited for five years. The bill is passed, the Old House is compulsorily purchased, and Florence is evicted.
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".
A feature film has been adapted by the Spanish director Isabel Coixet, casting Emily Mortimer as Florence Green, Patricia Clarkson as Violet Gamart, and Bill Nighy as Edmund Brundish. The film, a Spanish-British-German co-production, was internationally released in 2017. Filming locations included Portaferry, County Down, Northern Ireland and Barcelona, Spain.
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