The Bookshop
by Penelope Fitzgerald (read by Eve Karpf, David Nicholls and Stephanie Racine)
HarperCollins (audiobook)

The presence of David Nicholls reading his introduction to Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1978 masterpiece is a sure sign of quality. Fitzgerald’s heroine is the quietly determined Florence Green, whose mettle meets its greatest challenge when she decides to open a bookshop in the small East Anglia town of Hardborough in eastern England. In many respects, it is a bucolic place, but the name gives away the unyielding types who live there.

The joy of Eve Karpf’s mellow narration is perfectly suited to Fitzgerald’s carefully carefree prose, at once exact and open to mystery. A bagful of Fitzgerald audiobooks has just been released for download. You won’t hear anything better all year.