OffshorePaperback Flamingo S.
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- Paperback $8.68
- Publisher: Flamingo
- Format: Paperback | 144 pages
- Dimensions: 135mm x 200mm x 12mm | 120g
- Publication date: 1 September 2003
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0006542565
- ISBN 13: 9780006542568
- Edition: New edition
- Edition statement: New edition
- Sales rank: 508,993
WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 1979 A lovely new cover reissue of Penelope Fitzgerald's award-winning comic novel. Offshore is a dry, genuinely funny novel, set among the houseboat community who rise and fall with the tide of the Thames on Battersea Reach. Living between land and water, they feel as if they belong to neither...Maurice, a male prostitute, is the sympathetic friend to whom all the others turn. Nenna loves her husband but can't get him back; her children run wild on the muddy foreshore. She feels drawn to Richard, the ex-RNVR city man whose converted minesweeper dominates the Reach. Is he sexually attractive because he can fold maps the right way? With this and other questions waiting to be answered, Offshore offers a delightful glimpse of the workings of an eccentric community.
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Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the 'Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award, and this helped to introduce her to a wider international readership. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.
By Lyn Emanuel 04 May 2009
'An astonishing book. Hardly more than 50,000 words, it is written with a manic economy that makes it seem even shorter, and with a tamped-down force that continually explodes in a series of exactly controlled detonations. Offshore is a marvellous achievement: strong, supple, humane, ripe, generous and graceful.' Bernard Levin, Sunday Times 'She writes the kind of fiction in which perfection is almost to be hoped for, unostentatious as true virtuosity can make it, its texture a pure pleasure.' Frank Kermode, London Review of Books 'Perfectly balanced... the novelistic equivalent of a Turner watercolour' Washington Post
A quietly spirited little novel about people living on the edge (and at the end) of things: winner of the Booker Prize when it was published in England in 1979. (Fitzgerald is author of Innocence - 1987 - and the nonfiction The Knox Brothers - 1978.) Nenna James, 32, is center of attention here as she raises her two young and precociously observant daughters aboard the Grace, a derelict barge-cum-houseboat anchored on the tumbledown shore of the Thames at Battersea, London. The time is 1962, and others live around Nenna, on assorted barges of their own, holding together their marginal and sea-touched lives: Willis, the aging marine artist whose barge Dreadnaught sinks; crisp and kindhearted ex-officer of the Royal Navy, Richard Blake, who lives on Lord Jim and whose marriage (like Nenna's) is on the rocks; and Nenna's friend and confidant, the gay prostitute Maurice, whose barge Maurice is used as a depository for stolen goods by a cruel villain who later does passing damage. As for events: Nenna is separated from her husband, who, upon returning from temporary employment in South America, is disapproving and appalled to find Nenna living on the river; he leaves her and the two girls there, removing himself to a far and land-locked corner of London. Nenna's attempt to reawaken his love (she makes a journey to visit him) turns out to succeed, but his slowness of response proves disastrous: by the time he makes his way to Grace to find Nenna and the girls, they've gone ashore, soon to be escorted off to a morally bracing life in Canada by Nenna's proper, well-off, and assertive sister Louise. At the wondrously-done end: a dark storm howls up the Thames, tearing a not-quite deserted barge from its moorings. One thinks of Joyce Cary's Gully Jimson in the tender but unpretentious Nenna, her old-before-their-time but never saccharine daughters, and in the glory-faded poetry of the historic river itself, "bearded with the white foam of detergents, calling home the twenty-seven lost rivers of London. . ." In all, a small and very bright treasure. (Kirkus Reviews)