Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna
published 2012 chapter 4
observations: This blog is a huge fan of Muriel Spark, and in general holds her to be inimitable. But this fabulous book is the closest thing to Spark you could imagine – maybe crossed with a little touch of Hilary Mantel, equally a star in our eyes. It’s very short, and you could read it in a couple of hours. The narrator, adrift after the breakup of her marriage, goes to live on a farm in the Lake District. Cassandra, the farmer, is horrified by the changes in the area, and particularly the second-home-owners who are never there. So she comes up with a plan to make life fairer, and takes it to extremes, with the narrator rolling along beside her. Cassandra is an amazing character – completely unreasonable, horrible, impossible, and very entertaining. As the narrator says, ‘I can’t really imagine who on the planet would address Cassandra as dearest, but it seems heartless to point this out.’ You get swept up in the whole story, which is hilariously funny.
Links up with: different kinds of village life here and here. The properties repurposed by Cassandra include Pig Hoof Cottage, Itchy Cow Cottage, Biting Midge Cottage – names that could come straight out of Cold Comfort Farm.
The photograph is of noted gardener Vita Sackville-West (for whom see this entry) and is by Jane Bown.