A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark


Muriel Spark is the author of an audiobook I thoroughly enjoyed for its light touch and great humor, called Memento Mori, as well as her best known book, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  The latter is heavy on the message (as I remember from the film) and is a great contrast to Memento Mori.   This one is in the middle of these two.  In the midst of loving memories of the whacky folks who peopled the publishing business in London in the mid-fifties, the narrator tells the story of a very bad guy who stops at nothing to get revenge on the narrator because she called him a pisseur de copie.  Well, he was a bad writer. 

The narrator also brings to life the odd collection of folks who lived in her rooming house and neighborhood.  There's Basil and Eva, from whose apartment not a sound emanates, Wanda the Polish dressmaker, Kate the nurse who was a clean freak, and the Cypriot next door who had horrendous fights with his wife until she moved out and was replaced by her sister.

The other piece of this story is the evolution of Mrs. Hawkins, the narrator, who moves from being the very fat war widow that everyone instantly trusts, likes and respects, to being the moderate size wife of a doctor.  She marries one of the residents of the Kensington house who was a medical student at the beginning of the story.  It wasn't so much that they fell in love as that they fell into bed together and that seemed to be a permanent arrangement.

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