The Bookshop

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The Bookshop
First edition
AuthorPenelope Fitzgerald
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherGerald Duckworth[1]
Publication date
Media typePrint
823/.914 21
LC ClassPR6056.I86 B66 1997

The Bookshop is a 1978 novel by the British author Penelope Fitzgerald. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.


The novel, set mainly in 1959, follows Florence Green, a middle-aged widow, who decides to open a bookshop in the small coastal town of Hardborough, Suffolk (a thinly-disguised version of Southwold[2]). 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.

Critical reception[edit]

The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978.[3]

In a 2010 introduction Frank Kermode noted that the novel won Fitzgerald "the respectful attention of reviewers and the admiration of a larger public".[4]

Film adaptation[edit]

The book has been adapted by the Spanish director Isabel Coixet, with 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. It won three Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.


  1. ^ a b "British Library Item details". Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  2. ^ Christina Hardyment (21 July 2018). "Review: The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald". The Times. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ "The Bookshop". The Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ Kermode, Frank (2001). The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels, The Blue Flower. London: Everyman. pp. xx. ISBN 1-85715-247-6.