Praise For Penelope Fitzgerald And Offshore An Astonishing Book Hardly Than , 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 TimesShe 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 BooksPerfectly Balancedthe Novelistic Equivalent Of A Turner Watercolour Washington PostReading A Penelope Fitzgerald Novel Is Like Being Taken For A Ride In A Peculiar Kind Of Car Everything Is Of Top Quality The Engine, The Coachwork And The Interior All Fill You With Confidence Then, After A Mile Or So, Someone Throws The Steering Wheel Out Of The Window Sebastian FaulksThis Booker Prize Winner Is A Slightly Dark, Witty Novel The Brilliant Fitzgerald Takes A Subtle Squint At Thwarted Love, Loneliness And The Human Need To Be Necessary Val Hennessy, Daily MailThis Booker Prize Winning Novel From The Author Of The Blue Flower Is Set Among The Houseboat Community Of The ThamesOffshore 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 NeitherMaurice, A Male Prostitute, Is The Sympathetic Friend To Whom All The Others Turn Nenna Loves Her Husband But Cant 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

4 thoughts on “Offshore (English Edition)

  1. Paul Richard Paul Richard says:

    What I like about Penelope Fitzgerald s writing is the accessibility and how she develops her characters I also like that she writes about real life, not some shined up and polished view of what might have been But that is also why I docked the book one star, sometimes you want a book that ends in such a way that you feel good about where the characters have arrived This is the second book I ve read by Fitzgerald, the first was The Bookshop, and both books are about real life with all its ambiguity, helpful people, bitter people, and chance meetings that happen and don t happen I will continue to search out other books by Fitzgerald.

  2. D. Cloyce Smith D. Cloyce Smith says:

    Offshore is a slender, accessible novel that some readers might think, as some critics did when it was first published and as I did on first reading it, a bit of a lark quirky, often very funny, but ultimately insubstantial When I finished it nearly a year ago, I didn t review it here I d thought it slight in comparison to some of Fitzgerald s other novels each of which I have loved and just wasn t sure what to make of it But this little tragi farce the author s word, actually has grown on me I ve repeatedly referred back to my copy and on a recent weekend found myself reading the whole thing over again.What resonates on each subsequent skimming or reading is the subtle, brilliant way Fitzgerald portrays the novel s tight knit community as, fundamentally, an unorthodox family Set in the early 1960s, the story is surprisingly autobiographical something I didn t know when I d first read it Fitzgerald, too, lived on an old barge on the Thames for two years with her three children Although her heroine, Nenna, is a decade younger than the author had been during her river years, and here there are two children rather than three, it can be disarming to understand that this truly odd assortment of characters has been transformed from real life.At times, the two girls as precocious as children are in all of Fitzgerald s novels steal the show Their quips are frequently childish and clever all at once I hate very old toys, retorts six year old Tilda They may have been alright for very old children Observant and acrobatic river rats, both girls are religiously absent from school and instead get their education from their surroundings, exhibiting a maturity often lacking in the neighbors Among the adults is a rentboy named Maurice, whose illicit, professional activities are complicated by his allowing his boat to be used for the transfer of stolen goods Sam, an elderly painter, is trying to sell his boat and would appreciate it, thank you very much, if his neighbors wouldn t mention the leak to prospective buyers Richard, the unofficial leader of the bunch, owns the only shipshape vessel and lives apart from his wife, who detests life on the river Richard s situation mirrors that of Nenna, whose inept, unemployable husband also lives apart from his family and who wants her to sell the damn boat and end this bizarre display of independence It s not for me to come for you, it s for you to get rid of it I m not quarreling about money If you don t want to sell it, why can t you rent it out There is in fact a plot, and all the pieces come together, almost tragically and yet entertainingly in a madcap climax But the real focuses of the book are the erstwhile network of friends that forms on the river and the assertion of responsibility or, in some cases, the lack of it by each of the main characters This is a book that pays rereading it s both funnier and heartrending the second time out.

  3. PracAdemic PracAdemic says:

    I read this at the same time I was reading Penelope Fitzgerald s biography by Hermione Lee It made the novel far interesting than I might have found it reading it without that context On its own, I d describe it as a slim, elegant little book that in its presentation mirrors the disjointed and confused circumstances of Nenna, a woman separated from her husband, who has fallen on hard times and ended up on a leaky barge on a dank and polluted tidal river, with two children who are far resourceful than she is That this is based on a low point in Fitzgerald s own life is what makes it much interesting It is a novel and not a memoir, so I suppose one can t read too much into it, but while peopled by quirky characters and a kind of camaraderie, it sounds like it was pretty griman experience that couldn t really be prettied up.

  4. Roger Brunyate Roger Brunyate says:

    Fitzgerald s cast of characters in this Booker Prize novella are a motley group of people living in converted barges and small craft moored by the banks of the Thames, rising with the tide then sinking back into the mud Their self appointed chairman is a super shipshape ex Naval officer living on a converted minesweeper At the other end of the scale are an aging artist and a gregarious male prostitute Quite different from one another, they are nonetheless linked by a common suspicion of land bound life, and by their willingness to share each other s problems The central character, Nenna James, still longing for her absent husband, is the single mother of two precocious girls, who gain a richer education at the water s edge than in their occasional visits to school, where the nuns pray regularly for their father s return.Page after page, this is a miraculous book, miraculous in its genial understanding of character, doubly miraculous in its powers of description For example, the effect of the rising tide On every barge on the Reach a very faint ominous tap, no louder than the door of a cupboard shutting, would be followed by louder ones from every strake, timber and weatherboard, a fusillade of thunderous creaking, and even groans that seemed human The crazy old vessels, riding high in the water without cargo, awaited their owners return Or the description of Stripey, the James children s mud encrusted cat The ship s cat was in every way appropriate to the Reach She habitually moved in a kind of nautical crawl, with her stomach close to the deck, as though close furled and ready for dirty weather For a while, the closed community of oddball characters seems almost a set up for an Agatha Christie mystery, and Fitzgerald s first novel,THE GOLDEN CHILD, was indeed a mystery But her remaining eight books all short, all astonishingly different take a subtle tack Whether based on her own life including OFFSHORE and her other Booker nomination,THE BOOKSHOP or set in distant times and places pre Revolutionary Moscow inTHE BEGINNING OF SPRING, Goethe s Germany inTHE BLUE FLOWER , they all share a sense of slightly sad comedy So it is with OFFSHORE Miracle worker though she is, Fitzgerald eschews the easy miracle of a neatly sewn up ending The reader is left to imagine a consequence in which each of these lives moves forward into a new phase, perhaps happy, perhaps less so But the close community of the opening has broken up Writing in 1979, Fitzgerald sets the book in 1962, during the brief flowering of swinging London, after which everything would change Though no than a faint background presence, she is extraordinarily sensitive to the pathos of impermanence And she paints these lives lived on the margins of the tides with both a smile and a tear for their inherent unstability.