A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

Fiction

By Muriel Spark

Set at the crazier fringes of Fifties literary London, a much Cry from Kensington is a pride, hilariously portraying love, fraud, demise, evil, and transformation.

Mrs. Hawkins, the majestic narrator of a much Cry from Kensington, takes us good in hand, and leads us again to her threadbare years in postwar London. There, as a fats and masses widespread younger struggle widow, she spent her days operating for a mad, near-bankrupt writer (of first-class books) and her nights allotting recommendation at her small South Kensington rooming-house. At paintings and at domestic Mrs. Hawkins quickly exposed evil: shady literary doings and a dangerous enemy; nameless letters, blackmail, and suicide. With aplomb, notwithstanding, Mrs. Hawkins optimistically set approximately placing issues to reserve, little imagining the mayhem which might happen.

Now many years older, skinny, winning, and overjoyed with lifestyles in Italy -- relatively a much cry from Kensington -- Mrs. Hawkins appears again to all these darkish doings, and recounts how her personal lifestyles replaced ceaselessly. She nonetheless, in spite of the fact that, likes to provide recommendation: "It's effortless to get skinny. You consume and drink almost like constantly, in basic terms half....I provide this recommendation with out expense; it's integrated within the fee of this book."

A a long way Cry from Kensington has been hailed as "outstanding" (Observer), "wickedly and adroitly executed" (New York Times), and "a comedy that holds a tragedy as an eggcup holds an egg" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

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No, girl. ' But she don't say it, she just gives me the look of someone who could say it. ' Which isn't such a small point, it's not such a small point that Ray Johnson's daughter is going to college and means to be a teacher. The old man would have been proud. ' She looks at me as if she's ready and waiting if I want to go further down this line of argument, because she knows it aint exactly through my example that she's done what she's done. It's always been a sore point with her, though she doesn't bring it up any more, like she's started to give her own dad up for lost, that I could've found a better use for those brains I'm supposed to have.

Small matter of the fare, Vie,' I say. Vie says, 'Put one of your bets on. ' I look at Vie. It's a straight face. What's he mean: free man? 'That's right,' Vince says. 'You could see a bit of the world. Live a little. ' Vince's head is cocked towards the driving mirror. ' It's like he's a taxi-driver. So where to, guv? 'I aint particular. ' But Vie doesn't say anything. He doesn't say, 'Whenever you're ready, Ray,' then give his little one-finger, undertaker's salute. And I get this sudden picture of me in a car, in a cardboard box, in a big car, with just Vince driving, just Vince in his tie and cuff-links and dark glasses.

I watched Jack clear off the meat trays, picking up the little sprigs of imitation greenery, then wash down the display counter, smoothly, without pausing, like he could do it all with his eyes closed, but carefully and deliberately, taking his time, it being a hot day. And I thought, He's early, and it's a while since I've seen him do that himself, it's usually that lad, the one he said couldn't tell chuck from chine and couldn't keep a price in his head. Unless he's gone and paid him off too.

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