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Offshore

Length: 5 hrs and 1 min
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
Non-member price: $13.26
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Publisher's Summary

Penelope Fitzgerald's Booker Prize-winning novel of loneliness and connecting is set among the houseboat community of the Thames and has a new introduction from Alan Hollinghurst.

On Battersea Reach, a mixed bag of the temporarily lost and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the tide of the Thames.

There is good-natured Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by chance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, an ex-navy man whose boat, much like its owner, dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, an abandoned wife and mother of two young girls running wild on the muddy foreshore, whose domestic predicament, as it deepens, will draw this disparate community together.

©1979 Penelope Fitzgerald; Introduction Alan Hollinghurst 2013; Preface Hermione Lee 2013 (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"An astonishing book.... Offshore is a marvellous achievement: strong, supple, humane, ripe, generous and graceful." (Bernard Levin, Sunday Times)
"Perfectly balanced...the novelistic equivalent of a Turner watercolour." ( Washington Post)
"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)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 03-03-2019

Bohos on the Thames

“Offshore” presents a group of charming misfits who live on houseboats in a fading section of London in the early 1960s. The novel follows their romantic entanglements, frustrated ambitions and (like their boats) efforts to stay afloat.

The novel was well-written, although it sometimes drifted too far into the whimsical. I was not amused by two precocious sisters, ages 6 and 12, who are a little too brave, perceptive and well-spoken. But overall, this provides a brisk, entertaining listen. The narrator was strong on his characters’ voices, if sometimes a little overenthusiastic.

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  • Struweltiger
  • 31-05-2017

Puffing insincerity

Disappointing reading of fine novel. Every phrase is overspoken and preceded by a rushed and audible intake of breath.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nakul
  • 10-01-2017

Adequate reading

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He renders the characters' voices well (even when faced with a Canadian accent), but I found his tone when reading the narrative sing-song and infantilising, like he was reading me Winnie the Pooh. Quite unsuitable for a bleak, grown-up novel like this one.

Any additional comments?

Not Fitzgerald's best, but a strong book – compressed, allusive, subtle and often funny, much like her others. The voice of Alan Hollinghurst's baritone reading his insightful Introduction to the reissue is a treat and almost worth the price of the audiobook.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • catwitch
  • 24-04-2019

Awful narration! Spoiled the story.

The dreadful narration of this one stopped me from finishing it! Too annoying by far!

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  • Ms M L Vandermerwe
  • 12-04-2019

Narrator utterly ruins this book!

I’ve never written a bad review for audible before but I feel I must comment on just how dreadful the narrator is. I have listened to dozens of audible books in the past few years but I have never encountered a worse narrator. When he does characters’ voices he is fine but when speaking the third person narrative he sounds like a second rate newsreader. His sing song timbre is really dreadful and makes listening unbearable. It unintentionally injects a bathetic, almost childish energy into the narrative. Too awful and such a shame given the wonderful text and introduction. I really hope this is re-recorded at some point with a new narrator. Not everyone can be Jill Balcon but ....

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  • bookylady
  • 03-01-2019

An accomplished story, spoiled by the narration.

I would have expected a polished style of narration, for this book, a voice full of character and gravitas, given that this novel won the Booker Prize. Sadly the narration, for me, sadly let down the great quality of writing.
The cast of characters in this wonderful story was varied and the narrative drew me into a world of outsiders living a bohemian life on Thames barges. It's a charming, poignant tale which has moments of humour and real sadness.
Overall, a little disappointing. A different voice and style of narration could have made it great.