October 29, 2018 by TinyNavajo
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
♦ ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊
*Published June 9, 2015, first published in 1978*
This book was interesting. I won’t say that I enjoyed the book, but I will say that its premise and how it ended was interesting. With what I hope I can do with the future, I hope that the ending doesn’t happen to me.
In a small town in England, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance decides that the next best thing for her to do in life is to open a bookshop. But not everyone in her town thinks that a bookshop is best, especially when she starts to be successful at something that seems so impractical. When she starts to not only be successful but starts to enlarge her neighbors’ lives through the books that she sells, she attracts the wrath of the local art doyenne. Everything starts to go wrong, her borrowing library is not picking up, her assistant is deemed too young, her warehouse leaks, and her shop/home is haunted. It’s only after she has started that she realizes something; not all towns want a bookshop.
That just seems crazy to me, but it seems to be true. Not all towns want a bookshop, and not everyone wants to see you succeed. For our main character here, she learns this the hard way. She learned that what she was doing her in some hometown was not exactly welcome. For a while, she was able to preserve, especially as she had the go-ahead of the oldest and most respected resident in her town, a Mr. Brundish. But after a year, sales slump, people start to pressure her to give up the Old House, and a law passed allows the community to buys old property that has been uninhabited for five years or more. As all things work against her, our main character doesn’t do what you would expect most main characters to do; win. She in facts loses, her house and store are bought, and she is evicted.
It’s strange to read a book where there really isn’t a happy ending for the character we root for and encourage as we read. But, that is life though, so I can at least say that this book shows a side of life that isn’t commonly shown in books. That you can do all that you believe to be good, true, and right and still have your dreams taken away. But you can’t say that you didn’t try, and that’s all one can do sometimes. What books have you read that aren’t exactly happy endings? Did you enjoy them? Why or why not? Comment below and let me know!