Decline and Fall on Savage Street

Decline and Fall on Savage Street

By  Fiona Farrell

A fascinating novel about a house with a fanciful little turret, built by a river.

A fascinating novel about a house with a fanciful little turret, built by a river.

Unfolding within its rooms are lives of event and emotional upheaval. A lot happens. And the tumultuous events of the twentieth century also leave their mark, from war to economic collapse, the deaths of presidents and princesses to new waves of music, art, architecture and political ideas.

Meanwhile, a few metres away in the river, another creature follows a different, slower rhythm.

And beneath them all, the planet moves to its own immense geological time.

With insight, wide-ranging knowledge and humour, this novel explores the same territory as its non-fiction twin, The Villa at the Edge of the Empire. Writing in a city devastated by major earthquakes, Fiona Farrell rebuilds a brilliant, compelling and imaginative structure from bits and pieces salvaged from one hundred years of history.

A lot has happened. This is how it might have felt.

'It's a work of incredible research and incredible scope and incredible feeling . . . it's really wonderful. It think we will look back at these two books [Decline and Fall on Savage Street and The Villa at the Edge of Empire] and think of them as being very important in our local literary history as marking time and place and moment and feeling; it's a wonderful piece of art.' - Louise O'Brien, Radio NZ
'It's so vast, it shouldn't work; but it does. Primarily this is because, rather than anchoring her text to dry, historical minutiae, Farrell chooses to ground it to people, particularly family. So, as well as the impressive detail made especially graceful thanks to the author's poetic skill, the narrative follows one house settled upon the titular street and its inhabitants, particularly one family, extended and diverse. As such, chapter by chapter are, like a relay team, an exercise in passing the chronological story along. . . . Wide-ranging yet intimate, poetic yet simple, of the singular home yet speaking to the complexities of city and nation, Decline and Fall on Savage Street is a remarkable read.' - Siobhan Harvey, Waikato Times

Extract

. . . sand dune, left behind as the sea receded to the east. It wavers, a stretch of high, dry ground, across swampland. At its foot runs a river.

Also by Fiona Farrell