Review: Come to the Edge – Joanna Kavenna

Cover of Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna

Title: Come to the Edge
Author: Joanna Kavenna
Publication date: 12 July 2012
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-78087-213-1
Length: 295 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository


She didn’t mean to become a revolutionary. She thought she was going on a rural retreat.

Take one narrator looking to ‘get away from it all’. Put her in a shambolic, draughty farmhouse in a scenic valley with two psychotic goats and a village-full of empty second homes and scores of poor and elderly people with nowhere to go…

Add one widowed survivalist called Cassandra White and an absent banker. Stir in an escalating state of hostilities between the haves – who don’t use what they have – and the have-nots – who decide on a crazy utopian scheme to reclaim the valley for the locals. And what do you get? A hilarious, timely satire from Joanna Kavenna, the prize-winning author of Inglorious and The Birth of Love

My thoughts

Come to the Edge for me was one of those books that you instantly fall in love with. I was looking for a relatively short but entertaining read the other day and despite not having the faintest idea what to expect, I decided to pick this one up. Well, here’s what you can expect: a quirky, sarcastic and hilarious duo, a most unusual plot and roaring with laughter at 1 a.m when everyone else is sleeping.

Come to the Edge tells the story of our unknown narrator, a suburban housewife who’s been through a marriage break-up and who just wants to get away from it all. She answers a mysterious and quite unusual advertisement for an unpaid companion on a small farm in the Lake District. Upon arriving in this rural village she finds Cassandra White, an eccentric widow who doesn’t believe in such things as tertiary education or religion and who abhors modern conveniences like television, supermarket food, or central heating.And this is where things are starting to get complicated. Every day is a struggle for our narrator who is used to the conveniences of a suburban home but who, despite everything, decides to stay. The novel is about her rather strange friendship with Cassandra, about the differences between rural and suburban life, between the rich and the poor. Take all these ingredients, add a pinch of sarcasm and 3 tablespoons of humour and you get Joanna Kavenna’s masterpiece.

I loved the relationship between Cassandra and the narrator and how much she changed during the weeks they spent together. I loved how Cassandra was trying to teach her to be different instead of accepting the role society imposed upon her, and even though she rejects Cassandra’s ideas at first,  she completely changed by the end of the novel. Cassandra was quite an interesting character – in addition to the fact that her remarks are incredibly witty and hilarious, she’s right. You might think she’s a lunatic at first but there’s truth in what she says and what she’s fighting for. Even though she might not be the most sociable or warm or hospitable person you’ve ever met, she’s still a likeable character and I really liked her.

My only problem with this story is that I feel like no matter how hard I try, my review won’t do it justice. But I hope you’ll trust me and believe me when I say it’s a fantastic read. I can guarantee that it’s nothing like you’ve ever read before. It’s a witty comedy about serious things with a unique narrative and likeable characters- and even though the plot is quite exaggerated, it’s still believable and more importantly, very funny. It’s a charming, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny page-turner – a definite must have. And just a tip for commuters: do not read it on your way to work, including trains and the tube. Believe me, you’ll be crying with laughter.


‘Fetch wood.’
‘Where do I fetch it from?’
‘The wood, of course.’
‘What do I fetch it with?’
‘Well, there are various techniques you could use including asking the trees to give up their branches and begging the branches to walk along behind you, but I would suggest a bloody big axe and a basket.’

5 star rating
*Thank you to Quercus for sending me a review copy of this book*


    • says

      This was the first book I’ve read by Kavenna but it was fantastic – I’m sure you’d enjoy it! I think I’ll have to check out The Birth of Love because I really like her style. :)

    • says

      Oh yes, I was the same as you! I read the synopsis on the back cover but it didn’t actually say much so I had no idea what to expect. It was definitely a pleasant surprise! :) It’s quite absurd but HILARIOUS! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

    • says

      Yes, I was the same as you. It’s not that it has a bad cover but the fact that it doesn’t stand out as much as some of these ‘eye-candy’ YA book that have been released lately and I’m not sure it’d make me stop and pick it up if I was in a bookshop. But that’s what we’re here for, right? :) To recommend books other people wouldn’t necessarily hear about or pick up otherwise.

  1. says

    I don’t usually read adult fiction to be honest, but this one sounds really good! I find it interesting that you don’t actually know who the narrator is since I’ve NEVER read a book like that before! And the fact that it had you laughing out loud in the middle of the night? Well, I’m definitely in x) Fabulous review, Vicky! <3
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    • says

      Aww, thanks Kim! :) Yes, it’s quite rare, isn’t it? It was a great read! I hope you’ll enjoy it if you decide to give it a try. x

  2. Katherine T-L says

    Wonderful review – I loved Inglorious, Kavenna’s first novel – can’t wait to read this latest book !


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