Penelope Fitzgerald's Booker Prize-winning novel set among the houseboat community of the Thames.
`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. Living between land and water, they feel as if they belong to neither...
Maurice, a male prostitute, is the sympathetic friend to whom all the others turn. Nenna loves her husband but can't 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.
Praise for Penelope Fitzgerald and `Offshore':
`An astonishing book. Hardly more than 50,000 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 Times
`She 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 Books
`Perfectly balanced...the novelistic equivalent of a Turner watercolour.' Washington Post
`Reading 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 Faulks
`This 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 Mail
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the `Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award, and this helped to introduce her to a wider international readership.
She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.