I was first made aware of The Book Barge a couple of years ago when my little sister Jojo sent me a photo of it when it was moored in North London. Alas, living in a pocket of leafy South-West London that I rarely, if ever, left, I never did make it to the other side of the river to visit the famous floating bookshop. However, fate was to bring us together years down the line when I happened across a second-hand copy of Sarah Hernshaw’s memoir of launching The Book Barge when perusing the many shelves of my local bookshop, Gertrude & Alice, in Bondi.
As a long-time lover of all things literary, I adore reading anything whose focal point is books, and was keen to find out more about what life as a bookseller aboard a barge was really like.
The Bookshop that Floated Away offers her readers an honest account of the ups and downs (both literal and metaphorical) of life aboard The Book Barge, and we’re privy to both her profession as a bookseller and her personal journey as she deals with the breakdown of a long-term relationship and her struggle as she tries to stay afloat (‘scuse the pun) during a time when reliable, paying customers were often few and far between. Perhaps I have a romanticised view of bookshop ownership – indeed it’s been a long held dream of mine to run my own – but despite the many hardships Hernshaw faced, I still read her tale with a sense of envy at her life onboard The Book Barge.
A charming and unique tale that will whet any readers’ appetite for a more literary way of life, The Bookshop that Floated Away did nothing but reaffirm my unending love for books.
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