By Margaret Kennedy
The Feast by Margaret Kennedy is not a romance, romantic comedy, or a mystery or a thriller or “women’s fiction” or any other type of book I usually gravitate to. It is a novel-length character study of over 20 players. They are all gathered at a family estate turned vacation guest house on the Cornish coast at the base of a cliff. The evil, the disgusting, the pitiable, the contemptible, the good, the innocent, the admirable, the irritating, the heroic, the strong and the weak are all dissected and revealed with a surgeon’s expertise.
We know from the beginning that a portion of the 23 now lies crushed to death by the fallen cliff. By the end, we know that the dead are not innocent victims of chance. They were the authors of their fate. As were those who were spared. The choice they made to attend “the feast” sprang from some goodness within them. It is beautifully written with many beautiful descriptions and thought-provoking passages.
Describing the sadness and isolation of one of the characters towards the end of the book, Margaret Kennedy writes,
This was the second evening she would spend all alone up here, shut in with her troubles, while the light sank away….Dusk, in this room, had no soft and lingering tints; it was merely the failure, the death of day. And the silence of this room had no peace, no repose. It was sterile and empty.
I wish I had read this on Kindle because of its highlighting capabilities and ability to search and find certain parts about certain people. This is one of those books that one can reread again and again and find more meaning and insight each time. I learned of this book a couple of years ago thanks to the wonderful blog, http://anotherlookbook.com/ which seeks to uncover and restore some of the “really-good-but-almost-entirely-forgotten books that “languish on library book shelves for decades” or “yard sales after someone’s grandma passes away.” But fair warning: do not visit this website unless you have a couple of hours to spare.
September 8, 2019