MOVING HOUSE by Katherine Moore


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Moore is the astonishing 88-year-old English cultural historian who began writing novels at the age of 85 (Summer at the Haven, 1984; The Lotus Land, 1985). Her third is the wonderfully evocative tale of an old woman forced by circumstance to move from her family home. Roberta Cuffing lives in her beautiful country house, Rowenbank, an Edwardian gem which is nestled in the Kent countryside. It was built by her father, a genteel, eccentric painter from a wealthy family, and it contains a whole store of memories. But as the novel opens, Roberta is getting on in years, and realizes she's going to have to sell Rowenbank and move to a senior-citizen's apartment complex outside London. As she goes about packing and making arrangements, she falls into reveries that form chapter-long flashbacks, and we learn the story of her beautiful but vacuous mother, her father's suicide (he drowned himself when he learned he had cancer), and the death of her fiancÉ in the 1919 flu epidemic. She married, however, and survived WW II (""She was lying on the lawn in the garden listening to a robin, and also to the distant vibrations of guns across the channel which, on fine, clear days, you could feel rather than hear in that part of Kent""); and after her only son died, she raised his two children like her own. A warm, funny story told with a lovely simplicity of structure and a good deal of wisdom. When Roberta finally does ""move house,"" she sees it as an another end, and another beginning. All in all, a lively, luminous novel.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Allison & Busby--dist. by Schocken