Title: Come to the Edge
Author: Joanna Kavenna
Publication date: 12 July 2012
Length: 295 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Age group: Adult
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…
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.
‘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.’