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If I'd read Offshore in my teens I suspect it would have stayed with me as a favourite in a rosy glow, alongside similar books like Rumer Godden's The Greengage Summer, with the perfect balance of cosy and slightly but discreetly unsuitable, books I probably wouldn't dare re-read now in case they weren't as good as I remembered. The strength of the book - and here Fitzgerald excels - is in portraying a world with all its idiosyncracies and peculiarities.

I suppose that she met the author's task--she fully engaged this reader and pulled me into the story. Meanwhile, Martha gets friendly with a 16-year old German, Heinrich, staying for 24 hours, as a friend of a friend of Nenna's sister. As I'd only got round to watching A Very English Scandal - considered one of the best TV programmes of 2018 - a few days before reading this, I kept hearing Maurice as a more grounded version of Ben Whishaw's Norman Scott). Set in 1961, the novel follows an eccentric community of houseboat owners whose permanently moored craft cluster together along the unsalubrious bank of the River Thames at Battersea Reach, London.Offshore, the 1997 Booker Prize winner, is set in the 60's, the perfect time period for these water dwellers who are quietly defying conventional life off the shore of the hip area of Chelsea. Richard is a rock too, even though he doesn't know how to talk about feelings, and would rather not talk about feelings at all. For all ebook purchases, you will be prompted to create an account or login with your existing HarperCollins username and password. It “would have meant that he had failed in life, whereas, really, his kindness made him the very symbol of success in my eyes.

I am sure the fault is entirely mine but Offshore left me feeling rather like I had spent several hours on a draughty barge: cold and with dampened enthusiasm for the whole experience. On Battersea Reach, a mixed bag of the temporarily lost and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the tide of the Thames.

No matter how much I badgered for a barge holiday as a child, we never went on one: quite right, as I would have spent the week literally puking and whining, and it would have been a stressful waste of money and time off. At six, Tilly, seems far too articulate and knowing, but I later concluded that, with her own highly educated and perhaps somewhat unorthodox and rarified background, Penelope Fitzgerald may indeed have known or even produced children as precocious as this. It’s a fairly sparse novel populated by a group of fairly run down eccentrics and despite its brevity moves at a gentle pace. Their dwelling is determined by something in their characters: 'They aspired towards the Chelsea shore….

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