Cert PG 113mins Stars 3

I’m never happier than browsing in a bookshop, and this period drama provides plenty of dark corners to lose oneself in.

It’s illuminated by the intelligent and elegant performance of Emily Mortimer, who plays childless war widow, Florence, who’s determined to open a bookshop in a disused house in the snobbery and gossip-ridden fictional fishing village of Hardborough. 

However Patricia Clarkson’s powerfully connected matriarch has longstanding plans for the building and begins an insidious campaign to close the shop.

Bill Nighy brings solemn charm as an eccentric reclusive landowner, and Julie Christie’s opening voice-over helps set a mournful tone and an indicator of the tragic events to follow.

Northern Ireland is a majestic stand-in for 1950’s Suffolk, while the wintery photography, decaying grand houses, and tales of death in the marshes, add to the gothic atmosphere.

Adapted from Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel this is a defence of free thinkers against stifling nonconformists and a passionate love letter to the written word.

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