October 4, 2011

A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

This is a great read by an author I am just learning to appreciate. The book is set in a London boarding house, with all the boarders interacting, similar to Alexander McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions. Spark's boarding house, like Smith's, makes me a little claustrophic at times - narrow stairways, attic rooms, hotplates (maybe not, but that's how it feels). But Spark is a master of character development, and she does a great job here with her main character, a 28-year-old widow called only Mrs Hawkins for most of the book until near the end. Her nemesis is also an incredibly well-drawn character - an oily type who floats in and out of the story and sometimes just hovers unseen in the background like a malevolent mole. The ending is very satisfactory.

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