Offshore: A Novel

Offshore: A Novel

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by Penelope Fitzgerald
     
 

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Winner of the Booker Prize

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of the slightly disreputable, the temporarily lost, and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the great river’s tides. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they cling to one another in a motley yet kindly society. There is Maurice, by occupation a

Overview


Winner of the Booker Prize

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of the slightly disreputable, the temporarily lost, and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the great river’s tides. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they cling to one another in a motley yet kindly society. There is Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by happenstance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man whose boat dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, a faithful but abandoned wife, the diffident mother of two young girls running wild on the waterfront streets.

It is Nenna’s domestic predicament that, as it deepens, draws the relations among this scrubby community together into ever more complex and comic patterns. The result is one of Fitzgerald’s greatest triumphs, a novel the Booker judges deemed “flawless.”

“A marvelous achievement: strong, supple, humane, ripe, generous, and graceful.” —Sunday Times

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Almost disreputably enjoyable...You can breathe the air and taste the water.
Barbara Fisher Williamson
Much of ''Offshore'' simply sets the scene and arranges the characters, tasks Ms. Fitzgerald accomplishes with style....These characters are described with great care and skill. Ms. Fitzgerald excels at deft touches of characterization and dialogue....The action of the novel, what there is of it, is crammed into the final 30 pages....No one is settled in the end, including the reader, who hangs on perilously to a slender spar of the storytelling craft. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Here is life among the down, out and quirky, housed precariously in barges on the river Thames. ``With economical prose and wonderfully vivid dialogue,'' Booker Prize-winner Fitzgerald ``fashions a wry, fast-moving story whose ambiguous ending is exactly right,'' said PW. (May)
Library Journal
Fitzgerald was red hot in 1998. Not only did her most recent work, The Blue Flower, win top fiction honors at the National Book Critics Circle Awards, but several of her older titles were reprinted. Among them was this 1979 Booker Prize winner, which follows a bevy of characters living in houseboats on the Thames. (Classic Returns, LJ 5/1/98)
Washington Post
"Dazzling."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544361515
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/14/2014
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
495,205
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are saying about this

Frank Kermode
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.

Meet the Author


PENELOPE FITZGERALD wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel Offshore won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for The Blue Flower. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn’t. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 17, 1916
Date of Death:
May 3, 2000
Place of Birth:
Lincoln, England
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
Somerville College, Oxford University, 1939

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Offshore 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
jeritree More than 1 year ago
Reading Offshore is living moment by moment in Fitzgerald's house-boat setting on the Thames, with real, breathing, unique characters of all ages and dispositions. She is a master here of portraying the river-scape, using the exact terminology of houseboat reality and giving an intricate portrayal of people just like us, not the "larger-than-life" variety, but those caught up in in the ways life lives us even as we struggle to persevere and to know ourselves. This book is for readers who love boat-life, dramas of survival and taking the journey with a great craftswoman of language and portrayal.
Drora More than 1 year ago
Very "British" in nature and language.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago