The Book Shop Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Book Shop.
This section contains 448 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Book Shop Summary & Study Guide Description

The Book Shop Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald.

The Bookshop tells the story of the Old House Bookshop, Hardborough, East Anglia.

The Old House was a 500 year old house left derelict for years before widow Florence Green considers investing her inheritance in 1959 to buy it and renovate it into a bookstore for inhabitants of the seaside town.

Change comes slowly to places like Hardborough, and something as ambitious as a woman starting a business sets tongues wagging and minds racing. As soon as Florence has converted the Old House she discovers that the influential town socialite and patron of the arts, Mrs Violet Gamart, had plans to turn it into a cultural center.

Benefactors and detractors line up behind the two women as Florence goes about her business. Behind the scenes, Mrs. Gamart is whittling away at Florence's hold on the Old House. Inside the Old House, a demonstrative 'rapper' or poltergeist makes itself known.

Kind hearted and courageous Florence is tested by a number of underhanded ploys suggested, if not manipulated, by Violet Gamart. Other business owners are both suspicious and jealous of Florence's small successes and strange array of allegiances.

Among Florence's supporters are eleven-year-old Christine Gipping who comes to 'help out' in the shop, Mr. Raven, the wise marshman and leader of the Sea Scouts, and the reclusive local squire, Mr. Edmund Brundish. Mr Brundish is the only one to go head-to-head with Violet Gamart, but he suffers a heart attack and dies after leaving her house where he has gone to ask her to leave Florence Green alone.

Violet Gamart, on the other hand, enlists the help of an inspector from the Education Authority, who questions if Florence is breaking child labor laws by employing Christine. She also receives help from Florence's own solicitor, when Violet complains that the window display of 250 copies of Lolita causes obstruction on the highway; Violet's nephew, a member of parliament, who puts forward a private bill to allow councils to acquire properties for the use of the community in cultural and entertainment purposes also helps Violet in her schemes.

An odd character, Milo North, is Violet's chosen one to manage the Cultural Center. He assists Florence to make a profit by suggesting she stock Lolita, offers to assist Florence in the shop when Christine leaves but doesn't really work when she is not there, and is also assisting Violet in her quest to have the Old House.

Naively, Florence Green does not recognize the underhanded ways in which Violet Gamart is setting about to secure the Old House. The Bill put up by Violet's nephew allows the council to take over the Old House with almost no compensation and Florence is left with no choice but to leave Hardborough with nothing.

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