Anna Kavan wrote this book in 1929. It is a modern book of the time, so you have to get that time period in your head….only if like me you like to picture what is being worn etc. Industry has taken over much of the countryside of Hannington and the vicar moved out of the Old Vicarage and a new family moved in. This family is who we meet in this story. I was taken from the start with the way Anna writes:
In time builders came. They set up houses of a different kind: neat, ugly
little boxes strung together in rows. The rows, too, strung together. Surprisingly, they extended and met, forming mean streets that devoured the unresisting land. Fields were eaten away almost in a night. People went for their yearly holidays and returned four short weeks later to find the landscape strangely altered. Everywhere was an alien and unwelcome activity. Steam-rollers crawled over the endless new roads; workmen swarmed everywhere, combining with the inhabitants of the new houses to overwhelm the natives of the place. The ancient population dwindled and
vanished. A new people took possession of Hannington; a people which
teemed in the poor streets, demanding numberless shops, public-houses and
(Kavan, Anna. A Charmed Circle. London: Peter Owen. 1994, p.9.)
You really get a sense of what is going on here…then you meet the family and you see that unlike the progress that is going on around them, this family is stuck. They can’t seem to progress at all even though several of them try.
The reason I think they are stuck is because they don’t communicate with each other. It drives me made how many people I have difficulties with, only because they won’t tell you how they feel. At first you see it with the sisters. You are in their heads a lot and they tell you how they feel. But for some reason they can’t seem to express that then to the other sister and it leads to resentment and misunderstanding. There is a real hatred that flows through all of the inhabitants of the house. None of the family are happy, none of them tell each other how they feel, and they are all stuck together. No matter what they try to do so they can live their own lives….they end up back where they started. The reason is never really explained. I found that interesting. You have to really try and figure it out for yourself. You get the feeling that it could have something to do with the Dad and the illness he had that changed him. Or is it the house that keeps drawing them back. Is this why they can’t communicate to each other?
From what I understand, this book reflects the way Kavan was brought up. I see that with many authors (one of the reasons I like to read their biographies as I’m reading the first book.) A Stranger on the Earth: The Life and Work of Anna Kavan by Jeremy Reed, is the new biography that has been written about her and I’m going to get it soon so I can read it.
It might take you a bit to track down this book, but it is worth it! I interlibrary loaned it and it came quite quickly. In the States, I’m not sure how easy it will be to get.