Throwback Thursday: Review of The Feast, by Margaret Kennedy

The Feast, Margaret Kennedy

I admit I picked this book up initially because of the beautiful cover painting of a Cornish beach in the Forties. The back is just as lovely.

It reminds me of Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, where if you flew high enough over it you could see the coast on the other side of the town.

The introduction by Cathy Rentzenbrink in the this 2021 edition sets the scene and explains some of the history of the book. Published in 1950, the story starts at the end of events, in summer 1947, with a slightly down-at-heel boarding house buried under a cliff fall. A local clergyman is telling his visiting friend all about it – it had made the news across the country.

The story is an allegory for the seven deadly sins, told in seven parts for each day of the week leading up to the disaster. There are seven characters who each embody a different sin, and you learn from the Reverend that many met a sticky end when the cliff fell, and as many survived, so the book gets very tense towards the end! If you didn’t know or guess any of this undercurrent you would enjoy the story just as much.

The inhabitants of Pendizack Manor Hotel are well written, some will tug at your heartstrings, others you will want to push off the cliff without waiting for it to fall. Several are deeply irritating, or just awful people. But the best are those just trying to get through each day having been the best person they could, in their straightened circumstances.

It does have a touch of an Agatha Christie mystery, and it evokes the post-war atmosphere wonderfully; some having benefitted, some lost everything, and others just letting the world go by without paying much attention to anything from ‘the Government’. It seems the decades change but people don’t!

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