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The High House: Shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award

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I walked again, one foot in front of the other, and I didn’t think of father then, or of Francesca, but only of the burning in my legs and spine, the ache like heated wires in my arms, the sharp ground underneath my feet, and time was gone. In their new home, a converted summer house cared for by Grandy and his granddaughter, Sally, the two pairs learn to live together. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and now lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, with her partner and children.

The High House Swift Press | The High House

and his anxiety was forgotten on the swings, where I pushed him back and forth until it was late enough that father would be home. Rather, it was a kind of furious defiance that had led her to have a child, despite all she believed about the future—a kind of pact with the world that, having increased her stake in it, she should try to protect what she had found to love. We watched as an ordinary piazza in a far-off seaside town came apart, its street signs snapped, lampposts buckled, the café on the corner split open like an egg. Discuss the way time functions in this novel, how it slows down and speeds up, and how this affects the characters’ lives. They seemed so much a pair then, Francesca and Pauly, and as he began to take shape, his personhood unfurling like new green leaves, he grew toward her, reaching out to catch and climb.

I roamed the garden, building dens in the honeysuckle that crept across the ruins of the walled garden, decorating my hair with goose grass, making fairy umbrellas out of coltsfoot leaves. Despite its flaws, The High House is frequently penetrating and moving on grief, childcare, the lies we tell ourselves and group dynamics.

High House Weddings - Essex High House Weddings - Essex

I gave him his bag and breathed in the nursery smell of boiled carrots, disinfectant, and damp clothes. They looked resigned, as though they already understood what they had become a part of, and I tried to stop myself from crying because I was ashamed of my tears, which were neither compassionate, nor empathic, nor kind, but came because I was afraid, very suddenly and directly, for myself.Sometimes he let me bury his feet in the sand or, if it was hot enough, took me into the sea to swim, holding me under the armpits while I splashed. How does Francesca’s perspective on the decision to have a child map on to contemporary debates on this issue? They were silent for a long time then, and I stood very still in the corridor and thought of Pauly, the way his body twitched in his sleep, the tense look he got when Francesca was there, and how it was not hard at all for me to tell if he was happy or not. Pauly was drawing people, moon faces with stick bodies underneath, giant feet on the ends of dangling legs.

The High House | Jessie Greengrass | Granta The High House | Jessie Greengrass | Granta

She became even more than ordinarily busy, cramming into the few days what would otherwise have taken weeks—cooking stews and pasta sauces for the freezer so that we would eat acceptably when she was gone; planting runner beans in the garden; tying up the raspberry canes in rows; repainting the front door where Pauly had scratched it with a wooden duck on wheels. I trailed behind them, checking inside Pauly’s nursery bag to make sure he had his book, spare underwear, a snack.Hannah Lowe, Raymond Antrobus, Kayo Chingonyi and Victoria Kennefick are up for the poetry prize, while the children’s award sets Manjeet Mann’s verse novel The Crossing against Ross Montgomery’s London blitz-set adventure story The Midnight Guardians, and two debuts from Helen Rutter and Anna Goodall. Though disaster edges ever closer, Caro and Pauly are happy together: later she reflects that they, all the people she knew, “had the habit of luck and power.

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