Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh. Becky reviewed Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Sim celebrated the birthday of Muriel Spark with links and thoughts about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Gaele reviewed The Little Book Café by Georgia Hill, All the Things We Lost by Liz Trenow, and The Girl from the Mill by Chrissie Walsh.
I heard about The Bookshop from Sim who read the book last year in anticipation of the film release. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald was short-listed for the Booker Prize when it was published in 1978. Given Sim’s description of the plot, it seems that the film stayed very close to the text.
Emily Mortimer plays Florence Green, a war widow, who wants to open a bookshop in her village, the fictional Hardborough in Suffolk. She succeeds at establishing the shop, in spite of the objections of the local matriarch who would prefer that the building be used as an arts center. But, opening the doors only begins the trouble.
We loved Bill Nighy’s portrayal of Edmund Brundish. He’s just perfect as a recluse holed up in a country house with books. Mr. Brundish has just enough wherewithal to provide Florence with the support and advice she needs.
I also enjoyed Honor Kneafsey as Christine, the young girl who works in the bookshop, in order to help support her family. Anyone with a Netflix account and a passing interest in holiday romance movies will have seen her in The Christmas Prince in 2017 and its sequel this past December.
The characters and plot sound serious, and they are, but we laughed a lot while watching this film. The Bookshop is an exemplar of one brand of British humor — the kind that is dark, witty, and understated.
The settings are delightfully British. Hardborough is the sort of coastal village that reminds you that Great Britain is an island. The architecture of the village and country residences would make the characters in Jane Austen’s novels feel right at home. According to Condé Nast Traveller, those scenes were filmed at locations in Northern Ireland while many of the interiors were filmed in (surprise!) Barcelona. The film was written and directed by Isabel Coixet, one of Spain’s most prolific film directors, so the Barcelona film locations aren’t so surprising after all.
Have you seen The Bookshop? What did you think?