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The House at the Edge of the World

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,316 ratings  ·  126 reviews
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2016

Part mystery, part psychological drama, Julia Rochester's The House at the Edge of the World is a darkly comic, unorthodox and thrilling debut

When I was eighteen, my father fell off a cliff. It was a stupid way to die.

John Venton's drunken fall from a Devon cliff leaves his/>When/>Part
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 7th 2016 by Penguin (first published June 4th 2015)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,316 ratings  ·  126 reviews


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Simon
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now THIS is how you do a family drama. After John Venter falls off a cliff he leaves behind a father obsessed with a map, twins obsessed with themselves and a wife who doesn't seem to grieve. Told by one of the twins Morwenna, who is delightfully prickly, we watch a family unravel slowing revealing secrets. All told with snark and a sprinkling of demons, Devils, legends and mermaids. I hugged this book.
Renee Godding
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazing-books
4.5 stars

This was quite the hidden gem. I randomly picked it up at the library, read the prologue whilst still standing at the shelf and was immediately intrigued.

The House at the Edge of the World is a beautifully atmospheric family drama with a hint of mystery, set in the coastal area of Devonshire. The story starts on the night that John Venton drunkenly falls to his death from the cliffs near his home, as he tries to pee off them. As the blurb of the book states: "it was a stupid way to d
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Kerry
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing weird and gripping tale of family and all it's complexities. Dealing with love, taboos, grief, mystery, growing up, family, friends and relationships in their many forms.
The writing is a pleasure to read and the events unfolding throughout keep you interested and yearning to find out what happens next.
A great read and page turner.
Regina
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, netgalley
4.5 Stars.

Impressive. Unique. Interesting. Vivid. Dry.

Unlikeable yet loveable characters.

One of the best reads so far in 2015.


Thankyou to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read and review.

Jill
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: family-saga
The Prologue for 'The House at the Edge of the World' by Julia Rochester began with these words: 'When I was eighteen, my father fell of a cliff. It was a stupid way to die. There was a good moon. There was no wind. There was no excuse'. That is the most exciting thing that happened. The characters were unlikable, the plot thin, the pace so slow I lost interest and there was no hint of the intrigue or involvement suggested by the blurb. Morwenna, the character whose words open the story and her ...more
Renita D'Silva
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliantly told story about families and secrets.
Manda
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably 3.5 stars but it’s so beautifully written, I’ve rounded up.

This is an unusual book, and hard to review. It draws you in effortlessly, despite the fact that most of the characters are fairly unlikeable. At best, I was largely unsympathetic to them. I felt more sympathy for Valerie than everyone else put together.

For me, this book is all about the mark we leave - or not - on the world, and there’s a sense of melancholy throughout - both these things are summed up b
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Lolly K Dandeneau
This was an interesting family dynamic, and at the center of it- the mess left behind after the siblings (Morwenna and Corwin) father falls off a cliff isn't brought to light until they return home to face the past. The brother and sister's relationship alienates even their own mother, afterall- they are her 'cuckoo children' knocking her out of her own nest. The bond they share may also be the key to understanding the death of their father. Who is to blame? How could this have happened? I loved ...more
Chris
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A man falls from a high point into the sea and is lost. I am reminded of the myth of Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who on his way to freedom flew too close to the sun so that its heat melted the wax holding together the feathers of his artificial wings and he fell from the heavens. Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting on this subject famously shows his fall as unnoticed by ordinary people such as a ploughman, a shepherd and an angler.

But when John Venton falls off a cliff somewhere fac
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Amy
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Look, I don't know if it was my childhood obsession with Sweet Valley in its many incarnations - Kids, Twins, High, University - but I've always loved a book about twins. In fact, when you look at it on paper, this should absolutely be an Amy book, through and through. It's got so many tropes that I love in a book - those twins are just for starters. It's partly set in London, something I always find amusing as I live here. The rest of the book is set in the middle of nowhere, something I enjoy ...more
Jennifer
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
So... 3 -stars, if we could.

Part coming-of-age story, part psychological family drama, there is a dark and twisty mystery at the heart of Rochester's debut novel. For the most part, I quite enjoyed this evocative read, and I was particularly taken with Matthew, the grandfather, and his lifelong mapping project.

There were two issues that didn't quite work for me:
1) the character of Morwenna - who was a bit of a curmudgeonly and blunt teenager - never really progressed or evolved. Wh
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Damaskcat
Morwenna and Corwin are twins. Their upbringing is somewhat eccentric and when their father falls over the edge of a cliff while drunk their childhood comes to an end. It is only later that they start asking questions about his death. The twins leave their cliff top house to follow their own routes in life but something draws them back to the house and their grandfather Matthew's life's work - an illustrated map showing events in the family's life.

Can both Corwin and Morwenna reconci
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Barbara Rohde
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written tale of twins Morwenna and Corwin who have had to carve out lives for themselves after their father fell off a cliff while drunk shortly after their 18th birthdays. Morwenna becomes a book binder in London while Corwin disappears to Africa doing humanitarian work. The mystery begins after Corwin returns to their childhood home after 15 years away and casts doubt on the way their father died.

Often humorous, the characters are all well-drawn and the reader is draw
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Alice
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The House at the Edge of the World is the story of what happens when a hippy father falls off a cliff and dies one summer night. Following his death his father, wife and children must find a way to share their tumble down house together and, ultimately, they're all unable to do so.

Honestly I found this story a little self indulgent in many ways. The the mother, daughter and son are all really wound up in their own worlds. I suppose that's the point but it left me feeling a bit flat.

Valarie, bo
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Eric Anderson
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started university I developed a real George Orwell fixation after discovering his writing encompassed so much more than his most famous novels “1984” and “Animal Farm”. I read through all his major publications in order and a favourite novel was “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”. This is the perfect book for cynical young adults who value high literature above all else and are frustrated by our money-obsessed society. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the group of rebellious young fri ...more
Snoakes
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-top-ten
The House at the Edge of the World is a story about a family turned inside out when the father John falls off a cliff while walking home from the pub.

It's told by Morwenna, one of John's twin children. She is a spiky, complex character who rarely thinks before she speaks, frequently upsetting her friends and family with her blunt tactlessness. Her relationship with her twin, Corwin, is equally complicated - they love each with the self-obsessed ferocity of twins, yet their relationsh
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Becky
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, family, in-my-house
A surprisingly dark look at the emotional damage that can be caused by family life. This book has some incredibly vivid depictions of teenage life in the West Country, which really draw you into this story. I have to admit that I became so lost in these gorgeous images that I almost didn't see the darker aspects creeping into the story. This story has wonderful characters Matthew is particularly lovely. Growing up in Cornwall I'm pretty sure that I met a fair few of these wonderfully drawn indiv ...more
Eileen
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. Well written and engaging. The character of Morwenna was called a bitch so many times. It was said she'd always been a bitch. I failed to see that she was so bitchy. Maybe the author failed to provide the proper background, or maybe I'm a bitch myself so I saw nothing wrong with her actions aside from some comments she should have kept to herself out of kindness for others. Some part of me cheered her on for those comments though. I liked the idea of Matthew's map. And who d ...more
Gloria
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave this book five stars and I do not do that lightly. I found the book well written, dryly witty in a way that made me laugh and a compelling read.
The characters are believable and I related to them all but especially Morwenna.
The plot was interesting, finely drawn and unpredictable. The descriptions were often almost poetic.
It is one of the best books I have read in awhile.
I received a free copy from NetGalley for review.
Jess
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful prose, vivid storytelling, captivating narrative. I would have liked to give it 4 stars and was genuinely torn. In the end, though, it didn't punch me in the gut. The main characters were not fleshed out well enough for me. I had no empathy where I really felt I should have *some* feeling for them. If I could give it 3.5, I would.
Rachel
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this because I was writing a book set in Cornwall and wanted to see how the author dealt with it. I'm so glad I did. The tale is moving and engaging, and like all the characters, I fell in love with Corwin. Excellent twist and satisfying conclusion. There were also a couple of phrases that were worth the price alone.
Stephen Donovan
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was one of those books that I appreciated rather than enjoyed. It definitely contains some great moments that are full of deep meanings and powerful themes, but on the whole, it falls short on too many of the key aspects that need to come together in order to make an outstanding read.

To begin with, it was a very slow burner and I found it a challenge to stay engaged early on. Indeed, the story only gets going in the second half of the book, where the central mystery is finally e
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ReaderSP
I had heard a lot about this book and I randomly chose it from a list on my Kindle after finishing another book pretty quickly. I had totally forgotten what this book was about, so I just jumped right in with no real expectations.

The story starts with John Venter falling from a cliff in Devon as he drunkenly makes his way home from the pub one night. His body was never found and we then follow how his family are left to pick up the pieces and live the rest of their lives.

The story is told main
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Karon Buxton
Apr 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just couldn't get into this book did not like the protagonist couldn't care less what happened to any of them & shocked 😳 it's been rated so highly but hey that's personal taste for you. Very disappointed I wasted £14.99 on this !! Off to the charity shop it goes !
Snorki
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Family life centred around a house in the West Country. The grandfather hasn’t moved more than 12 miles away for 50-odd years, and devotes his life to painting a map of the area. The parents have a difficult marriage, and twins, who are very close - too close? - to one another. The novel really starts when the father appears to slip to his death from a cliff. The novel is narrated from the perspective of Morwenna, the female twin, as she talks about her life at home, and once she has left. Some ...more
Wendy Greenberg
Interesting take on families and indeed about manipulation and identity. Felt that the relatively common themes of family disputes, selfish behaviour & misunderstandings were taken in a unique direction which made the book a real page turner. Athough I enjoyed the incredibly fine and atmospheric writing (which literally danced from the page), I felt the story lacked a much needed depth for the subject matter it tackled.
Yvonne Debono
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this book, particularly Morwenna, are very unlikeable which made it difficult to warm to the book at first. However, though I never warmed to the characters at all I started to enjoy the book the further into it I got. A dark and well written mystery with an unusual but interesting family dynamic.
Emma Darcy
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
one of the rare cases, for me, where an incredibly unlikeable protagonist doesn't ruin the story. I loved Matthew
Sue
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into the story. I didn't like the main characters at all. But the last third was so good, despite still not liking them. Very original.
Helen Carolan
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a beautiful read. very much in the style of Hannah Richell and Morgan Mccarthy.two siblings find their world coming apart after their father dies.
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Julia Rochester grew up in East Devon on the Exe Estuary.

She has worked for the BBC World Service on programmes in Portuguese for Africa and for Amnesty International as Researcher on Brazil. She has also been the managing editor of her own small publishing company, Corvo Books.

A graduate in Modern Languages, she is fluent in German and Portuguese and has lived and worked in Germany and Brazil.
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