Homesick -Catrina Davies

Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed by Catrina Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an engaging and fascinating book detailing one woman’s attempt to escape the treadmill of dead end jobs and crappy rooms in shared houses by moving into a shed in her hometown in Cornwall where she has the peace and space to write. The magic is in her descriptions of the people she encounters, revealing the impact of second homes and investment properties on Cornwall. She also details beautifully the lives of her parents and herself, crushed by economic hardship and mental health difficulties, and there are some lovely descriptions of nature, and of the kindness (and random, undeserved hostility) of strangers.

I too was born in the Winter of Discontent so we are the same age. While I would argue we have it better than those younger than us, ours is the generation where the faultlines are first evident. Amongst my friends, also in their early 40s, they are either settled into a career and own a house and have a mortgage, or they are stuck on a treadmill of low paying, unreliable jobs, and renting a room in a shared house, or maybe a tiny flat to themselves if they are lucky. There seem to be no particular rules s to who has ended up with what but the key factors as far as I can see are, 1) inheriting something along the way and being sensible with it (I inherited a small amount from my grandparents, similar to what Davies got from her grandfather by the sound of it, which I used as a deposit on a property before prices rocketed), 2) being in a profession that offers reliable job prospects, and 3) being in a stable relationship, with two decent incomes. I have two out of three and am definitely less well off than most of my friends who have three out of three, but I know other people who have had different luck and made a couple of different choices, and now find themselves locked out of home ownership, job stability, and probably locked out of the places and landscapes they love and feel a connection with. Anyone with mental health problems and/or neurodivergence is particularly likely to end up in this scenario, as beautifully, honestly depicted in this book.

I did skim some of the descriptions of surfing as I found them tedious, but it still did manage to convey to me that this is important for her and of huge importance for her mental health.

The descriptions of the natural world, and the observations about people and society are superb. It is a moving and important book and one I will now purchase for a permanent place on my shelves as I’m sure I will want to re-visit it.

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