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Cli-fi set on the coast somewhere in ENGLAND

28th February 2022

The High House by Jessie Greengrass, cli-fi set on the coast somewhere in England.

Cli-fi set on the coast somewhere in ENGLAND

Shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, 2022 – Fiction, with a sense of place.

All around the effects of climate change are evident. It is in the news on a daily basis. In this novel, the ravages of drought and flood slowly seep into the reader’s consciousness. The author has a real gift for understated prose and attention to detail that lends this work an ethereal, yet anchored quality.

The High House is perched above a village and four people come to live together as the story progresses. We discover how it is they each happen to be there and who has organised the provisions and infrastructure at the house. Caro arrives with her small half brother Pauly, and Sal and Grandy have been looking after the house in recent years. Their connection is Francesca, a scientist and Pauly’s mother, who is all too aware of the impact that the changing weather patterns will have. Imminently.

The author describes scenes with which we are familiar. TV snapshots of scorching temperatures leaving parched terrains, heavy rainfall bursts banks and causes terrible flooding. People and animals die, they drown, they burn. We know that the elements, in some form, will descend on this small group of people but quite how and when is left in the lap of the gods. The reader spends time with them as they prepare, as they take in the wonderful nature that still abounds – which is delicately and wonderfully described; a pair of egrets remain nesting but due to the confusing weather patterns should have flown away before now and young Pauly makes it his mission to keep an eye on them.

The local village has been welcoming those who have second homes and has encouraged tourists, they have changed the whole feel of the area over the Summer. The incomers go about their daily lives, unaware seemingly of the impending doom. The season has ended and they go back to their homes. Up at the High House the four are battening down.

This is very much a story of climate change. The author makes it feel that doom is just around the corner, which it probably is. Are people motivated to tackle the issues? In principle yes, but things are not moving quickly enough.

This is a thoroughly thought provoking, challenging and sensitively written book, that is full of impact.

Tina for the Tripfiction Team

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