A Far Cry from Kensington (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
In Muriel Spark’s eighteenth novel she returns to a setting similar to that of her Loitering with Intent (1981). Both novels are set in London in the years of austerity following World War II, and both feature a female first-person narrator who is involved in the literary world. Both touch on fringe religion and the occult, as well as blackmail (the latter features in almost every novel Muriel Spark writes), and both have a cast of brilliantly created, eccentric, but believable characters, who never lose their effectiveness for the reader by slipping into caricature.
Writing from the perspective of the 1980’s, the narrator of A Far Cry from Kensington, Nancy Hawkins, recalls her ups and downs as a twenty-eight-year-old widow (her husband was killed during the war), working as an editor for a struggling, and shortly to fold, publishing house in London during the 1950’s. At that time, the most immediately noticeable thing about Nancy (who was known to all of her acquaintances as Mrs. Hawkins) was her bulk: “I was massive in size, strong-muscled, huge-bosomed, with wide hips, hefty long legs, a bulging belly and fat backside.” Her appearance gives her an air of matronly wisdom; others readily confide in her (although she notes that later, when she began to get thin, people no longer did so), and everyone holds her in high esteem as...
(The entire section is 1998 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
The Atlantic. CCLXII, August, 1988, p. 80.
Chicago Tribune. July 11, 1988, V, p. 3.
Contemporary Review. CCLII, April, 1988, p. 213.
Library Journal. CXIII, July, 1988, p. 96.
Los Angeles Times. July 14, 1988, V, p. 12.
New York. XXI, August 1, 1988, p. 45.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, July 31, 1988, p. 1.
Newsweek. CXII, August 15, 1988, p. 60.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, May 27, 1988, p. 48.
Time. CXXXII, July 4, 1988, p. 70.
The Times Literary Supplement. March 18, 1988, p. 301.
(The entire section is 59 words.)