Susanna Crossman

Home Is Where We Start

Home Is Where We Start

Growing Up in the Fallout of the Utopian Dream


In the turbulent late seventies, six-year-old Susanna Crossman moved with her mother and siblings from a suburban terrace to a crumbling mansion deep in the English countryside. They would share their new home with over fifty other residents from all over the world, armed with worn paperbacks on ecology, Marx and radical feminism, drawn together by utopian dreams of remaking the world. They did not leave for fifteen years.

While the Adults adopted new names and liberated themselves from domestic roles, the Kids ran free. In the community, nobody was too young to discuss nuclear war and children learned not to expect wiped noses or regular bedtimes. Instead, they made a home in a house with no locks or keys, never knowing when they opened doors whether they’d find violent political debates or couples writhing under sheets.

Decades later, and armed with hindsight, Crossman revisits her past, turning to leading thinkers in philosophy, sociology and anthropology to examine the society she grew up in, and the many meanings of family and home. In this luminous memoir, she asks what happens to children who are raised as the product of social experiments and explores how growing up estranged from the outside world shapes her as a parent today.