Sea-Change by Jessica Streeting



In their ancient London taxi, Jessica Streeting’s family move east, deep into the Norfolk countryside.

It is 1975 and her father, the Reverend Paul Farnham, has a new position at the church of St Agnes, Cawston. Here they find a world populated by people who embody both the old and new ways of rural life. Children of the soil, whose parents have worked it for generations. The musical ones. The clever ones. The artists, accountants, shopkeepers and publicans. Among it all, their vicar played a role for all people. Admired and adored he strove to buoy his congregation week after week, unwittingly mythologising himself as he went.

The hole he left then, when in a moment he was ripped from the community, was huge.

In this epic poem Jessica revisits that place, for the first time addressing the grief she so quickly suppressed in the manner of the age. She brings to life in heart-breaking clarity a world made by industrious children and their imaginations, until tragedy muted the colours of that golden time.

With a foreword by Stephen Fry – for whom Paul Farnham played an inspirational role – Sea-Change is a book whose potency reminds us not only of the power of shared stories, but also that how they are told can make us all players in their drama.

“Whether evoking a vacant parsonage, an exposed Norfolk horizon, or the void left by traumatic and early loss, a genius of space pervades Sea-change: a poetic memoir of singular poise and poignancy.”
Andrew Rumsey, Caught by the River

“It is a beautiful thing… A lovely book. It is moving and true. I suggest you buy it and read it.”
George Szirtes