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A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark
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A Far Cry from Kensington (original 1988; edition 2000)

by Muriel Spark

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8093711,269 (3.85)162
Member:KayCliff
Title:A Far Cry from Kensington
Authors:Muriel Spark
Info:New Directions (2000), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:novel, publishing in fiction, widow

Work details

A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark (1988)

  1. 01
    Harpole and Foxberrow, General Publishers by J. L. Carr (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature publishers in fiction.
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» See also 162 mentions

English (36)  Spanish (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
(Fiction, Vintage, British)

The narrator of this book lived in a boarding house in Kensington in the 1950s and recounts the mild adventures of her fellow boarders. As usual, the narrator is a key, but that fact is obscured until the end. This makes it sound as if I didn’t like this book, but I did – a great deal. Spark is a smooth delight at any time.

Read this if: you’ve just finished a book you had to work really hard at and you need a ‘palate-cleanser’; or, obviously, you enjoy vintage English comedies. 4 stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jul 1, 2016 |
Spark perfectly captures the atmosphere of 1950s London and the publishing business in this story. It's a comedy of a sort, yet combined with tragedy in a clever way. The text is conversational, as if Mrs Hawkins, an editor with a publishing house, is telling her story personally. The style keeps the reader involved in the matter and in each of the characters from the Kensington rooming house where she lives. The story mostly revolves around a hack author who becomes a thorn in the flesh of Mrs Hawkins who dubs him a pisseur de copie, to his face no less, thus unleashing a series of events that no one anticipated. Spark tied up the plot very nicely, leaving no loose ends - well maybe one, but that one is up to the reader to decide. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jun 21, 2016 |
A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark; VMC; ROOT; (4 1/2*); purged

My thoughts & comments:

Muriel Spark is an author whose books are 'to die for'. I really loved reading A Far Cry From Kensington. The story is not plot driven but is a whole lot of fun. I enjoyed how she drew her characters, how she played them, the story, the entire work. I am so happy she wrote quite a few books and I will be seeking them all out. ( )
1 vote rainpebble | May 24, 2016 |
The book has no particular point but is a fun romp with a curious collection of characters. ( )
  snash | Nov 1, 2015 |
I loved this book so much I went and checked out two more of Muriel Spark's books. It's so subtle I never expected to enjoy it this much, but it snuck up on me and couldn't have been better. Fabulous. ( )
  MizPurplest | Sep 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spark, Murielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allisio, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andreasen, Mogens WenzelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bachmann, ÞórdísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bron, EleanorNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dilé, LéoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dimitriu-Sora, IleanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juan, Maribel deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ramos, WandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singer, MosheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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So great was the noise during the day that I used to lie awake at night listening to the silence.
What do we do with our lives? (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
When Mrs Hawkins tells Hector Bartlett he is a "pisseur de copie, that he 'urinates frightful prose', little does she realise the repercussions. Holding that 'no life can be carried on satisfactorily unless people are honest' she refuses to retract her judgement and, as Bartlett has friends in high places, this costs her not one, but two much-sought-after jobs in publishing.
Now, years older, successful and, happily, a far cry from Kensington, Mrs Hawkins looks back over the dark days that followed, in which she was embroiled in a mystery involving anonymous letters, quack remedies, blackmail and suicide.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811214575, Paperback)

Set on the crazier fringes of 1950s literary London, A Far Cry from Kensington is a delight, hilariously portraying love, fraud, death, evil, and transformation.

Mrs. Hawkins, the majestic narrator of A Far Cry from Kensington, takes us well in hand, and leads us back to her threadbare years in postwar London. There, as a fat and much admired young war widow, she spent her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher ("of very good books") and her nights dispensing advice at her small South Kensington rooming-house. At work and at home Mrs. Hawkins soon uncovered evil: shady literary doings and a deadly enemy; anonymous letters, blackmail, and suicide. With aplomb, however, Mrs. Hawkins confidently set about putting things to order, little imagining the mayhem which would ensue. Now decades older, thin, successful, and delighted with life in Italy -- quite a far cry from Kensington -- Mrs. Hawkins looks back to all those dark doings, and recounts how her own life changed forever. She still, however, loves to give advice: "It's easy to get thin. You eat and drink the same as always, only half....I offer this advice without fee; it is included in the price of this book." A masterwork by "Britain's greatest living novelist" (Sunday Telegraph, 1999), A Far Cry from Kensington has been hailed as "outstanding" (The Observer) and "wickedly and adroitly executed" (The New York Times). "Far Cry is, among other things, a comedy that holds a tragedy as an egg-cup holds an egg" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:16 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Mrs. Hawkins takes us in hand and leads us back to her threadbare years in postwar London. There, as a fat but much admired young war widow, she spent her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher and her evenings dispensing advice at her small South Kensington rooming house. At work and at home, Mrs. Hawkins soon uncovered evil: shady literary doings and a deadly enemy; anonymous letters, blackmail, and suicide. With aplomb, however, Mrs. Hawkins confidently set about putting things to order, little imagining the mayhem which would ensue." "Now decades older, thin, successful, and delighted with life in Italy - a far cry from Kensington - Mrs. Hawkins looks back to those dark doings, and recounts how her own life changed forever. She still, however, loves to give advice: "It's easy to get thin. You eat and drink the same as always, only half ... I offer this advice without fee; it is included in the price of this book.""--Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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