A Far Cry from Kensington, Hardback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


With a cover design by Lucienne DayWhen Mrs Hawkins tells Hector Bartlett he is a 'pisseur de copie', that he 'urinates frightful prose', little does she realise the repercussions.

Holding that 'no life can be carried on satisfactorily unless people are honest' Mrs Hawkins refuses to retract her judgement, and as a consequence, loses not one, but two much-sought-after jobs in publishing.

Now, years older, successful, and happily a far cry from Kensington, she looks back over the dark days that followed, in which she was embroiled in a mystery involving anonymous letters, quack remedies, blackmail and suicide.


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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

If she was alive today, I'd be writing to thank Muriel Spark for adding a useful phrase to my repertoire: <i>pisseur de copie</i>. It's a phrase that gets Mrs. Hawkins (later known as Nancy) into a good deal of trouble, but she never takes it back. Mrs. Hawkins, a large-boned and hefty 28-year-old war widow, works in the world of publishing, and she lives in a boarding house full of eccentric characters, including a Polish seamstress, a pampered daddy's girl, a clever lower class medical student, and others. It's her connection to Hector Bartlett, the <i>pisseur de copie</i>, that shapes the novel. Mrs. Hawkins takes an immediate dislike to the pretentious would-be author, who tries repeatedly to use his 'friendship' with popular novelist Emma Loy as an entry ticket. (Nancy suspects a sexual liaison, but Emma's revelation that Hector can quote from all of her novels--wrongly--suggests something a bit more egotistical.) When tragedy strikes the boarding house community, Mrs. Hawkins launches an investigation of her own.<i>A Far Cry from Kensington</i> is a delightful trek into the world of publishing, ca. 1950s, and a wonderfully droll study of character. I've read only one other novel by Spark, but I'll definitely be seeking out more.

Review by

I read this a long long time ago, and phrases kept echoing from decades past. I remember liking it very much: on this second read, Nancy got on my nerves a bit with all her advice - believe me, you can NOT slim by cutting your food down by half, at least if you have my morphology you can't. And she does repeat too many times "pisseur de copie" - a phrase I have never heard in all my 40 years of French-speaking. I suppose if she had used the expression "verbal diarrhoea" Spark would not have got away with it.

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