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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Fitzgerald, Penelope: The Bookshop

  Amazon  

3 stars

Having lived for more than eight years in the East Anglian coastal town of Hardborough, Florence Green determines, in 1959, to purchase the aptly named Old House, a damp and decrepit and indeed haunted property more than 400 years old. Her decision to open a bookshop in the building, while approved by a certain Edmund Brundish, the town's most respected scion, is opposed by an unfortunately more influential resident of Hardborough, Violet Gamart, who has the vague plan of turning the Old House into an art center. Florence's defiance of Mrs. Gamart's will begins an undeclared war between the two women, only one of whom knows  for certain that a war is in fact being waged.  Penelope Fitzgerald's The Bookshop chronicles the quiet but persistent opposition Florence faces in opening and running the shop as well as her encounters with the odd cast of presumptuous characters who populate Hardborough.

The Bookshop offers some very nice writing, as Fitzgerald's description of a horse forced to submit to having its teeth filed: "Once released, the horse sighed cavernously and stared at them as though utterly disillusioned. From the depths of its noble belly came a brazen note, more like a trumpet than a horn, dying away to a snicker." But the book as a whole is not entirely satisfying. The characters are too outspoken to always be credible, including the precocious eleven-year-old who works in the bookshop with Florence. The poltergeist who punctuates the silence of the Old House with its rapping serves no obvious narrative purpose. And the jumps in the narrative, with motivations and intervening action left to the imagination, make the story feel incomplete.

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