The Far Cry, Emma Smith

Teresa was at sea.  The boat moved – would she ever forget it? – away from the land.  And something was severed; she felt delivered.

“I never want to come back!” she screeched.

The grey land made no effort to hold her, gave no final sign of enticement.  It lay there, apathetic, allowing her to go.  The loud-speaker was playing “Indian Summer”.  Down pouring a huge flood of sound, drowning the salty air, paralyzing thought, emotion, everything, a vast crocodile tear of farewell, loudly lugubrious, and up against it soared Teresa’s voice, like a skylark beating its frail wings.  “I never never want to come back…”   Strands of hair whipped across her blasphemous mouth; the tears in her eyes belonged to the wind, for she was hard with triumph.  “Never, never…”

“Very well, never come back,” the flat grey mud that was England seemed to answer, indifferent to her wild cry of renunciation.  She gripped the rail, passionately free.

Recommended by: I actually don’t remember.  Persephone had it up, but I think I read about it on another book blog before then.

The Far Cry is about an excusably unpleasant girl called Teresa and her unpleasant father who go away to India in order to escape from her (I’m sure equally unpleasant) mother who has expressed interest in young Teresa for the first time in her life and may be contemplating stealing her away from her hapless father and bringing her up to be spoiled and pleasure-seeking.  They go on a boat and meet people, and then they get to India and meet a few more people, and then several very eventful events happen in a cluster and the book closes on a note of hope for Teresa’s future.

It wasn’t bad.  I didn’t love it but it wasn’t bad.  It’s one of those books that makes me bust out the litotes in order to talk about it: I didn’t dislike it.  The characterization wasn’t uninteresting.  There was just never a point at which I wouldn’t have been completely happy to put it down and read something else.  Things got set up that never went anywhere; and even when they did go somewhere, they never went anywhere satisfying.  Ms. Smith talked about feelings so much that I thought some emotional climax would be reached, and I suppose it sort of was, but it didn’t bring everything together, and it wasn’t very satisfying.

The girl, Teresa, reminded me of Frankie from The Member of the Wedding — misplaced and cranky.  I didn’t like The Member of the Wedding.  I support Southern gothic writers and everything but I do not love them in my heart (although that story of Flannery O’Connor’s with the girl called Joy and her wooden leg was a riot), so it wasn’t helping matters that I had Frankie in the front of my mind the entire time Teresa was around.

Two thumbs sideways.  Not in the hitch-hiking sense.  Or, okay, two stars.