This is a great little book and I am glad I’ve finally read it. Must have had it for at least a couple of years and I’ve no idea why I waited for so long to read it. Penelope Fitzgerald wrote it in 1978 and a lot of people now probably aren’t familiar with her work, which is a shame. I guess that every generation has authors it has grown up with, then with the classics and the new books, some very good authors outside that generation and perhaps not quite deemed ‘classic’ become less well known to readers of a certain age. The Bookshop is a great example how to say a lot with a very few words, there is nothing unnecessary here, certainly no pretentious language, just excellent observation. And the ending, well, I won’t talk about it but it made me think.
I bough Fitzgerald’s Offshore at the same time so am looking forward to reading it soon. However, the one book of hers that I really, really want to read is The Blue Notebook, the one about German Romantic poet and philosopher Novalis. I am super fond of German Romantics, studied them a bit not so long ago, they were a bit tricky to get on with at first, all that talk of artists as priests and art galleries as temples but, in the end, I did get on with them and they served me very well in an exam. I am certain that The Guardian’s list of 1,000 novels everyone should read first told me of Penelope Fitzgerald, it really is a great resource for finding good books I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
So, I am working hard at reducing my ‘pile of shame’ books before another load of titles comes at Christmas. I’m sort of ‘on track’ for my November reading list even though I’ve thrown in a couple of unexpected non-fiction titles into the mix, thinking they’d be helpful with the history course I am doing at the moment. Currently reading Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and having read his Collapse earlier this year, at least I am familiar with some of his ideas so am getting through it fairly quickly. Next non-study related book is going to be the latest Kate Summerscale, the one about the Victorian divorce scandal.