Based on Penelope Fitzgerald's novel of the same name, this is a rousing story of simple times. Set in a small town in 1959 England, this is the story of a woman who decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop, a decision which becomes a political minefield. Florence Green (Mortimer) opens this first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. Fighting damp, cold and considerable local apathy she struggles to establish herself but soon her fortunes change for the better. Causing a cultural awakening in a town which has not changed for centuries, her activities bring her a kindred spirit and ally in the figure of Mr Brundish (Nighy) who is himself sick of the town's stale atmosphere.