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Emerald Street review


Oh, Morwenna is a narrator that pulls no punches. “When I was 18, my father fell off a cliff. It was a stupid way to die,” she tells us. These are the first two sentences and, right there, is Morwenna – cynical, somewhat detached and neatly judgemental. Writer Julia Rochester generously allows her central character to share this ability: Morwenna is sharp and speedy and can give a full picture of a person in just a few lines. The appearance of father’s friend Bob, when hung over and crying, takes on “the quality of a dishevelled morning-after fancy-dress costume”. Later on, she describes the rolls of fake fur that fill the hallways of her building as colourful evidence of her landlords spivvy business practises, making him sound tacky and ludicrous without ever saying it explicitly.

At the book’s beginning, Morwenna lives in a reasonably happy teenage soup of friends, bonfires, plastic bottles of cider and her twin brother, Corwin. The death of her father, drunk and pissing off a cliff into a river, pushes the previously close twins apart, although it liberates their mother. Seventeen years later, the family is drawn back together and their shared history starts to unravel. The House at the Edge of the World is, like its narrator, funny, sharp and also terribly sad.