A Far Cry from Kensington

Fiction by Muriel Spark

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 but much admired young war widow, she spent her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher (“of very good books”) 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.” A masterwork by “Britain’s greatest living novelist” (The Sunday Telegraph), 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” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

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Muriel Spark

20th century Scottish novelist, poet and essayist