Run time: 113 mins
Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1959 Booker-shortlisted novel is brought to wryly satirical life.
Florence Green (Mortimer) sees her dreams come true when she defies the odds and opens a bookshop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, Suffolk. Ignoring opposition from the narrow-minded locals and thin-lipped town socialite Violet Gamart (Clarkson) Florence continues her focused attempt to bring good literature to the community, attracting the attention of Mr. Brundish (Nighy) a book lover, unmoved by small minds locals. Through her gradual introduction of classic contemporary works of fiction to sheltered neighbours, she stirs many long buried feelings in the townsfolk.
A time of tea, cardigans and paraffin heaters is lovingly depicted by director Isabel Coixet, just as the suitably grim-grey cinematography presents a post-war Britain aching for the expressive freedoms represented by the Philip Larkin, Vladimir Nabokov and Ray Bradbury, stocked in Florence’s shop.
For fans of the Fitzgerald novel, Nighy as Florence’s unlikely ally will please and is, as always, wonderful, yet while the story resists typically comforting clichés, it does depart slightly from its source. (Research Chris Coetsee) It doesn’t matter. The gorgeous Emily Mortimer and that Nigh man for all seasons, weathers and times, are there at its heart. You must come.