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Offshore - Penelope Fitzgerald

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Penelope Fitzgerald / Paperback / 144 Pages / Book is published 2009-08-20 by Fourth Estate

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      20.01.2012 12:09
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      An unputdownable book

      They say that you should never judge a book by it`s cover ,and in the case of Offshore this is true.This is because when I first saw this book I noticed the boats on the cover and Immediately thought it was a book about boats or fishing , neither of which I am interested in. However, when I looked closer I saw Battersea Power Station in the background . I enjoy reading stories set in London , so I gave the book a closer look and read the text on the back cover. It sort of looked like my kind of book.

      The story is about a small community of houseboat dwellers on Battersea Reach in 1962.The residents are known to each other by their houseboat names;

      Lord Jim ---A married couple, Richard and Laura,Richard loves living on a boat but his wife Laura wants to buy a real house
      Maurice---A gay male prostitute (he named his boat in his own name) who keeps all kinds of unsavory company including a thief who uses his boat to store stolen goods
      The Rochester----An older married couple who only stay on their boat through the summer
      Dreadnought-----A sixtyfive year old artist called Willis. At the start of the book Willis is trying to sell his houseboat which is full of holes.
      Grace--- Nenna a young mother separated from her husband and bringing up two little girls Tilda and Martha by herself.

      Mainly the story follows Nenna and her girls with their interaction with the other residents. Laura is concerned because the girls never go to school and Tilda spends a lot of time with Willis ( who is harmless).Richard and Nenna are sort of attracted to each other but Nenna wants to get back with her husband who says he will divorce her if she continues to live on the houseboat.
      There are several adventures throughout the story including one where a boat sinks with the residents still on board.The highlight of the book for me was when Tilda and Martha went mudlarking one afternoon.They dug up two William De-Morgan ceramic tiles, took them to an antiques shop and sold them. Just imagine it ,two little girls,Tilda only six years old and Martha only a few years older,both covered in mud, walking unaccompanied through the streets of London carrying these William De-Morgan tiles. Then going into an antiques shop where they haggled with the owner over the price of the tiles, they then spent the rest of the afternoon in Woolworths buying pop records.

      I brought my copy of this book in Waterstones on the `all books for 99p` table. I was happy to buy the book at a reduced price but had I known how good it would be I would have happily paid full price for it

      Useful website/blog


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