The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)Read about another entry on the list.
In an abandoned old house in the fictional Suffolk seaside town of Hardborough, widow Florence Green opens a bookshop. She is challenged by rising damp, a poltergeist and local opposition. Hardborough exemplifies insularity: “The town itself was an island between sea and river, muttering and drawing into itself as soon as it felt the cold. Every 50 years or so it had lost, as though careless or indifferent to such things, another means of communication.” As David Nicholls says in an introduction to this witty and tragic novel, the final sentence is “one of the saddest I’ve ever read”.