THE FEAST by Margaret Kennedy


Email this review


There's been too long a gap in Margaret Kennedy's history. Her best known novel. The Constant Nymph, her play, Escape Me Never, have kept her name before the public. And it is to this earliest of her novels, despite the length of time, that the analogy will seem closest in this new book. Here again is a sort of madness, at which she is adept; here is more of symbolism more evident a pattern. The story is set in the frame of impending disaster; the readers know that the cliff on which the Inn is set is cracking-and that only sixteen will survive its collapse. And against this time drama is played. The family that run the Inn are ignorant of its probable fate; it is only by chance that one of the staff happens on a letter, negligently left unopened, and containing a warning. The guests are held together by hate -- by suspicion -- by greed --by anger. A motley crew:- the Inn owners, carrying on out of false pride; a titled family, the mother taking refuge from the law in hypochrondria, the children following the lead of an adopted sister in vicious mischief; a greedy widowed mother, cheating her three small daughters of their rights -- hoping for their deaths; an unfrocked canon, shouting his anger and terrifying his daughter nearly out of her wits; a couple in a state of perpetual disunion; an old harridan clinging to her youth through a young lover; servants who play dei ex machina -- or Greek chorus, as the case may be. There is readily imagined symbolism here, and more than a suggestion of comparison with The Bridge of San Luis Rey. But there is a tenous thread of good, and now here, now there, a softening influence emerges, ultimately to bring part of the group together for ""the feast"" -- which alone saves them from destruction. A haunting sort of story.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1950
Publisher: Rinehart