Offshore

by Penelope Fitzgerald | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0002216140 Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 6/23/2005
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, June 23, 2005
This was an orphan from my recent birthday party. I will keep for now to-be-read :)

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, June 08, 2006
(30/05) Finished - review to follow

This is quite a subtle understated novel (or novella) describing the lives of a motley selection of boats – and their owners – residing on a tidal stretch of the Thames called Battersea Reach in the early 1960’s. Penelope Fitzgerald’s 2nd novel inexplicably won the Booker Prize in 1979. I’m not saying I didn’t like the book (I did btw), but its rather unformed subject matter, slow tempo, and lack of literary pretensions do not mark it out as a Booker-winner.

On a positive note, I like to think that a well written character-based novel about ordinary people, albeit living an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, can be successful. I think that modern tastes, or publishers/editors mores(?), demand bigger, richer, more marketable ‘cinematic’ novels.

And so, back to the story…the novel very cleverly intertwines the lives of the houseboat inhabitants, named after their launches; the self-styled father and leader of the group Richard ‘Lord Jim’ caught in a loveless marriage and feelings for, Nenna ‘Grace’ and her free-spirited daughters, confidante of Maurice with his dubious lifestyle and even worse choice of friends. The story starts with Willis, maritime artist who has never been to sea, planning to sell the leaking ‘Dreadnought’ and move onto the mainland; in fact all of the owners feel a force pulling them away from the river and a stronger attraction to their life rising and falling with the tide, ‘living between land and water, they feel as if they belong to neither’. In the end a high tide a storm and more nefarious human intervention causes all their lives to be changed.

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