Kane, Jessica Francis. Rules for Visiting. Penguin New York 2019. F;7/19.
An excerpt of this nice novel appeared in Granta, who have published other of Kane’s work. This is a memoir-style story about a woman preoccupied with and employed at landscape gardening who gets a month off for some professional honour, and decides to go and visit friends. The Granta excerpt was a visit by protagonist May to her grandmother who is a crabby alcoholic and whose rules for visiting represent the old-fashioned authoritarian approach which May certainly wouldn’t subscribe to.
Her friends, three of them, are very different from one another, one appearing to breeze through life in a carefully-constructed perfection, another recently broken up with her husband and having health problems, and the third somewhat of a kindred spirit. A male love interest floats in middle-aged and single May’s background.
The tone is relaxed and unpretentious, and I like May (can I presume Kane?)’s politics, not interested in the extreme left:
We live in a time when everyone gets a medal and all villains have heartbreaking backstories. No one thinks evil is intrinsic anymore, just someone making a really bad choice.
but balanced by (almost literal) tree-hugging, and humanism:
I’ve always wanted the pathetic fallacy—the idea that the natural world takes an interest in our affairs—to be true.
A tolerable read, I suspect for some reason (certainly not open feminism) more interesting to women than men. Although the plot tended toward the sentimentally tedious a bit, the lovely writing and insight didn’t let me down.
Tentatively recommended. 7.9/8.8