Penelope Fitzgerald

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

Unlike some Booker Prize winners, this book is neither heavy nor self-indulgent. It is light and funny. It chronicles the lives of several individuals inhabiting barges along the banks of the Thames. Most of them are hardly seaworthy. Such could be said of their inhabitants, most of whom are hanging on teeth and toenails.

I don’t usually like children in fiction. ‘Plot moppets,’ Red-Headed Girl calls them. I especially dislike fictional children who lisp. Well, the feral children of this novel, hold their own. Skipping school to rummage along the mudflats for anything they can turn to cash, they are the centerpiece of this novel. I loved them.

In fact, I loved all the characters. Drawn to a way of life they can’t explain, they live their lives on the margins of society.


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