Book Review: Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald


General Fiction > Literature | Contemporary

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of eccentrics live in houseboats. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they belong to one another. There is Maurice, a homosexual prostitute; Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man; but most of all there’s Nenna, the struggling mother of two wild little girls. How each of their lives complicates the others is the stuff of this perfect little novel.

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (1979)


Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing appealed to me: witty and direct, with a touch of dry humor. =)

The key to enjoy reading Offshore is to read it at a slow pace. I did it by reading 20 pages a day. Fortunately, it worked for me. It was a surprise to even like this book, but to love it? It was close to unreal (at least for me, since I am a YA reader most of the time).

I did not try to connect to the characters, but I like Nenna. And her wise-beyond-their-ages children. I found Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing funny, if you know when to laugh. Her style made me think that there are things happening other than what I am reading from her words.

I found the marital conflict between Nenna and Edward entertaining. I mean, it was absurd (some things they fight about), but it happens in real life. And how they respond to each other because of those issues, it was funny in a sarcastic way. =)

I peg Offshore as one of those books I will read offhandedly (just to say that I read a Man Booker Prize). But when one character managed to creep into the pages at the last minute… well, well. That was a hopeful turn to an otherwise typical open-ended story.


OFFSHORE by Penelope Fitzgerald

Paperback, 141 pages

Published April 3rd 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1979)

4/5 stars