Thursday, March 12, 2015


Offshore is the 1979 Booker prize-winning novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. I love the way this author makes you feel a part of the lives of characters you have nothing in common with. I have also read and enjoyed her novel The Bookshop.

from the back of the book:
On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of the slightly disreputable, the temporarily lost, and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the great river's tides. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they cling to one another in a motley yet kindly society. There is Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by happenstance a receiver of stolen goods, by nature a friend to all. And Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man whose boat, much like its owner, dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, a faithful, loving, but abandoned wife, the diffident mother of two young girls running wild in the waterfront streets.

It is Nenna's domestic predicament that, as it deepens, draws the relations among this scrubby community together into ever more complex and comic patterns. The result is one of Fitzgerald's greatest triumphs, a novel the Booker judges deemed "flawless."
favorite quote:
There isn't one kind of happiness, there's all kinds. Decision is torment for anyone with imagination. When you decide, you multiply the things you might have done and now never can. If there's even one person who might be hurt by a decision, you should never make it. They tell you, make up your mind or it will be too late, but if it's really too late, we should be grateful.
The Telegraph says, "All Fitzgerald’s books are the product of maturity, reflection, the quickly touched depth of accumulated knowledge and long experience. Their creation reflects the new sense of opportunity that may come with the bereavements and displacements of later life." The Independent says, "Fitzgerald’s humour is gentle but aware, sensitive to ordinary human failings and the mess people inadvertently make of their lives in their attempts to connect with others, their need to feel less alone." Kirkus Reviews calls it "A quietly spirited little novel about people living on the edge (and at the end) of things".

The Guardian begins its review with this:
Penelope Fitzgerald has been compared variously to DH Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh and Martin Amis. Her admirers are drawn to Fitzgerald's sparseness of expression and her ability to trace the subtle social interactions between disparate characters, who often work or live together in small, offbeat communities. Offshore, which won the Booker prize in 1979, showcases her talent as a miniaturist.


  1. Gathering my list. Going on a trip next week so I need a stack of books. Thanks for keeping me supplied with titles.


    1. Her books would be great to take on a trip. They are short so easy to carry, and they keep your attention.

  2. Oh, it´s short? Good, because I have got to read it. This sounds wonderful. I´ve started ordering samples, that way I can "browse" when I need something to read. Just another way of keeping a list, I guess, but the downside of buying on-line is that you don´t get a "feel" for the book. I have made some mistakes that way. Not much time to read right now, though, but in a few weeks I hope to. You´ve led me to some great books, by now I do trust your judgement. :-D

    1. Yes, Offshore is just 141 pages long. The other book I read by her _The Bookshop_ was good, too, (maybe even better than this one) and was only 123 pages long. It's so much easier to get a feel of a book in person, I agree, when you can hold it; but they are making it easier now online by allowing you to look though some of the pages. It's still harder for me to find books online, though, since I tend to wander down the bookshelves and pick up books as they strike me.