by director/co-writer Isabel Coixet
I read the Penelope Fitzgerald novel twelve years ago, during a particularly cold summer in a remote British fishing village near Penzance. I never read novels looking for material for movies, because if I liked them very much, I always think the film will never reach the wonders of the novel, and if I don`t like them, why bother?
Then I fell in love.
With the cold.
With the dampness of the little cottage I was living in.
With the dry unsentimentality of Penelope Fitzgerald's writing.
And with Florence Green, a character I felt deep down, it was me. Me, if I had lived in a little damp fishing village in England in 1959 and if tweed skirts and olive green wool blouses were my thing. Florence Green is an underdog in a world where underdogs are less than nothing. They are invisible, and any attempt to make themselves visible can start a war.
I always joked during the shoot, working with the wonderful Emily Mortimer and the one and only Bill Nighy, this is a cold war film. History is always teaching us war starts with a single tiny action. Florence Green opens a bookstore in a little village without a single place to read or buy books and all of a sudden, there's a war. A war she never saw coming. A silent but relentless conspiracy led by my muse Patricia Clarkson, in our third film together.
This is a film about books, about people who worship books and about people who never feel alone in a bookshop.
Or in a movie theatre.
I hope this is film for you, whoever you are, out there in the dark, craving for connection in the big screen. Craving for a world where underdogs like Florence Green are finally visible and powerful. Things will be so much better then… and so much easier.