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The Crack Magazine


Undercurrent (A Cornish Memoir of Poverty, Nature and Resilience)

Oh, Cornwall! Like a microcosm of the many attractions around the world. It’s beauty and romance attracting visitors from every corner of the UK, visitors who provide much needed income to local businesses but also sully what made (and makes it) special in the first place. And then there are the visitors who buy second homes, and who, through the carelessness and stupidity of our governing classes, have created enclaves which are no longer affordable or comfortable for the Cornish people themselves. Natasha Carthew highlights all of the above in Undercurrent but also shows how dysfunctional family life and poverty butts up against wealth and privilege to compound the problem. However, Undercurrent is also about the ways dysfunction can be eased through the support of working-class community, the love of a parent strong enough to go it alone and the nurturing wild beauty of a village at the edge of the sea. There are some things, however, that Natasha Carthew understands very early in life, “As a young girl I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life cleaning holiday homes…I was gay, a tomboy, different from all the other girls. I was ambitious, headstrong and, although, as a young kid I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, I knew there was something out there worth fighting for.” And, then, there are some things she needs experience to understand, about how being different, being a writer, being an outsider and renegade means home and village could “never be a friend.” A beautiful but uneasy read, whose echoes are being felt all over Britain at the moment, “The heart of our communities is being ripped out and the soul of what that word means is starting to be replaced with ghosts, the memory of a place and heritage that soon will be simply known as ‘once was’.” Undercurrent runs deep. A great book.

Undercurrent (A Cornish Memoir of Poverty, Nature and Resilience) – Natasha Carthew- publ. Coronet- £16.99

Steven Long

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