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Of course, the book is short enough to maintain the feeling of novelty and I am able to remain dry while reading it, so Fitzgerald has to make it sound as squalid and uncomfortable as possible to prevent me feeling envious of her vividly sketched cast.

Ebooks fulfilled through Glose cannot be printed, downloaded as PDF, or read in other digital readers (like Kindle or Nook). The barge-dwellers, creatures neither of firm land nor water would have liked to be more respectable than they were. It's the Thames standing in for the River Lethe, whose waters wiped the pasts of ancient Greek souls before they wandered beyond it into the Limbo of Asphodel. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others.She "had the air of something aquatic, a demon from the depths", and "respected the water and knew that one could die within sight of the Embankment". The main theme, though, is of those who seem to belong nowhere definite, not being of the land or the sea; of those who are uncomfortable with ‘normal’ life, who can’t adapt. She constantly finds herself in a grotesquely patriarchal court in her own mind where she is being cross-examined about – and always blamed for – the dismal state of her marriage. Penelope Fitzgerald drew on her own experience living on an old Thames barge that sank right out from under herself - twice.

It was inspired by the most difficult years of Fitzgerald's own life, years during which she lived on an old Thames sailing barge moored at Battersea Reach. Meanwhile Nenna’s decisive and wealthy sister Louise has arrived from Canada to take charge of Nenna’s life, as she considers Nenna has shown herself incapable of doing so. 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. In an interview Penelope Fitzgerald said she was drawn to "people who seem to have been born defeated or even profoundly lost; people who are ready to assume the conditions the world imposes on them, but don't manage to submit to them.Everyone lives between land and water, but each is also caught in some other dichotomy: childhood or adulthood; togetherness or separation; comfort or poverty; in or out of love; life or death; artistry or manual labour; dreams or cold reality. To access your ebook(s) after purchasing, you can download the free Glose app or read instantly on your browser by logging into Glose. John Wilson is a lifelong enthusiast for London the city and for London in literature, art and film.

Offering a glimpse of the lives of the houseboat community at the Battersea Reach in the Thames circa 1960, the characters are undeveloped and motivations skimpily dealt with.Tenderly responsive to the self-deception of others, he was unfortunately too well able to understand his own. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford university, from which she graduated in 1938 with a congratulatory First.

The exactness and offhandedness of her de-romanticising portrait of the river life reflect her own stint on a Thames barge, and this autobiographical realism affords the story unsettling and soggy emotional depths under its crisp, witty surface. In spite of the doomed Romances all round: Laura leaves Richard, Louise whisks her sister back to Canada, Heinrich and Martha, enjoy a tender burgeoning of teenage love for a single day - there is so much more to this bubbling, fantastic, witty, wee book - than mere romance. However, by the time I finally stepped away from the little Thames community, I could see that it all linked in its own way and there were few loose ends.

There is good-natured Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by chance a receiver of stolen goods. Offshore is a dry, genuinely funny novel, set among the houseboat community who rise and fall with the tide of the Thames on Battersea Reach. Fitzgerald has this enormous gift, to invite you into the world of her characters and get you to stay there, even though not very much is happening.

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