- Publisher: Orion Hardbacks; First Edition edition (1 Nov. 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395476941
- ISBN-13: 978-0395476949
- Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Far Cry from Kensington Hardcover – 1 Nov 1988
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The divine Spark is shining at her brightest . . . Pure delight (Claire Tomalin, INDEPENDENT)
An outstanding novel . . . A FAR CRY FROM KENSINGTON has an effortless, transluscent grasp of the spirit of the period (OBSERVER)
'Wonderfully entertaining - full of absurd, comical, engaging characters and written with typical wit, elegance and aplomb (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
One of Muriel Spark's most liberating, liberated and meditative novels. Spark is a writer who can take the meditative and make it mercurially funny, playful and mischievous (Ali Smith) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
* 'The divine Spark is shining at her brightest . . . Pure delight' Claire Tomalin, Independent --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Told from the perspective of the no-nonsense and utterly dependable Mrs Hawkins, the book revolves around her life within the publishing profession and her relationship with her neighbours within the boarding house where she resides. Though not a lot appears to happen on the surface, there is something of a mystery centred on a blackmail plot in the narrative, as well as Mrs Hawkins numerous encounters with an author who she continually offends and appears to enjoy putting in his place, much to the detriment of her career. Evocative of 1950's London and Sparks' own experiences of the time, the book is a realistic look into a forgotten era and laced with titbits of advice from the protagonist, delivered in a very matter of fact fashion.
This book will not only look spectacular on your bookshelf- but it is such a lovely little read too and filled with subtle humour and dark comedy. I will definitely be recommending it to my friends and you will most likely enjoy it if you favour light-hearted, character rather than plot driven novels. Recommended.
Narrated by the once round and central character, Agnes Hawkins (a.k.a. Mrs. Hawkins or Nancy), the story revolves around her experiences as a young widow living in furnished rooms in a semi-detached building in South Kensington. She colorfully describes her neighbors and acquaintances, and gives us tantalizing glimpses into their little secret worlds, in which she is a trustee and confidante.
Despite the mysterious black boxes and the lurking threat of enemies, known and unknown, our heroine manages to keep her head above water, remains a pillar of strength and finds true love among the rubble. Thanks to her diet plan (freely given to the reader as a bonus for purchasing the book), she gains new self-respect, and reinvents herself in a new country, a far cry from her humble beginnings.
A simple classic by an inspired writer.
The life and the times are indeed summoned up very vividly here - post War London still recovering from austerity. And there is much pleasure to be had from the narrative style which combines lightness of touch and distance from the terrible (and joyful) events recounted together with a measure of sympathy.
That said, I have enjoyed some is Muriel Spark's other novels more - there is a strong collection of four novels published in the Everyman's Library series including The Only Problem that I would recommend more strongly.
Muriel Spark's novel, first published in 1988, is a slight, inconsequential affair, centering on the occupants of a rooming-house in South Kensington in 1954.
Having recently read Stannard's biography of the author, it is clear that the narrator, Mrs. Hawkins, is Muriel Spark herself and that many of the events in the book are taken from her own life.
The novel recalls a period when tenants of a big house in London did talk to one another, when most people were short of money, when clothes were repaired rather than taken to the charity shop, when class distinctions seemed to matter less.
The narrator is a detached observer of her life, so much so, that an important event like getting together with her boyfriend almost takes herself, and the reader, by surprise. It can be like that in real life as well, I suppose.
The publishing world of the early 1950s is especially well evoked, which is as it should be, since it is based on Spark's own experiences. I suspect things have not changed much in publishing in the intervening years.
An enjoyable novel, which can be read in an afternoon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Invokes images of what London was like in the Fifties quite well. Quite satirically funny in places. Worth a read.Published 7 months ago by Paula Letch
I always enjoy Muriel Spark! Don't think this is her best but it's an adequate read, and has a nice twist in the plot.Published 8 months ago by tessa st john
Kept me on board throughout. Funny and very human. Now I'm just trying to fill in the amount of words required yeah I got therePublished 9 months ago by Katy Rose