In 1959, free-spirited widow Florence Green (Mortimer) tries to put grief behind her by opening a bookshop – the first of its kind in the sleepy seaside town of Harborough. By exposing the conservative locals to the best literature of the day, including Nabokov’s Loilta and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she initiates a mini cultural awakening.

Her efforts bring her a kindred spirit and ally in Mr Brundish (Nighy), who is sick of the town’s stale atmosphere, but she also makes fierce enemies, including the embittered Mrs Gamart (Clarkson).