Based on Penelope Fitzgerald's novel of the same name; 'The Bookshop' is set in 1959, Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a free spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop - the 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. By exposing the narrow minded local townsfolk to the best literature of the day including Nabokov's scandalizing "Lolita" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", she opens their eyes thereby 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 (Bill Nighy) who is himself sick of the town's stale atmosphere. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) a local social doyenne who is jealously affronted by the changes our heroine has affected.