A Far Cry from Kensington

Muriel Spark, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17.45 (189p) ISBN 978-0-395-47694-9
Even the title is witty in this latest of Spark's delightful novels, bearing as it does at least three layers of ambiguity. It is a tale told in a splendidly commonsensical way by Mrs. Hawkins, a buxom young war widow who is a tower of strength in a failing London publishing house during the lean years after WW II. She is surrounded, both at work and in her seedy Kensington boarding house, by those slightly off-center eccentrics the Englishand particularly Sparkdraw to perfection; everything on the surface seems utterly realistic, yet fantasy as rich as anything in Garcia Marquez is only a breath away. Mrs. Hawkins selects a hate object among the literary hangers-on at her firm, and that hatred changes her life. She also becomes involved with a Polish dressmaker with a dark secret, invents a supremely successful method of dieting and almost in spite of herself becomes happy. Spark knows the wonderfully zany world of postwar-London publishing backward, her wit has never been more telling, and any book person is going to gobble this up. A sample, to whet the appetite: ``Publishers, for obvious reasons, attempt to make friends with their authors. Martin York tried to make authors of his friends.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
Paperback - 189 pages - 978-0-8112-1457-5
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