This novel is written from the point of view of Alice Rowlands, daughter of a Vet living in South London. Her father is brutal and cruel to Alice and her mother. Strange things start to happen to Alice; she has to return to London and the oddness continues. There are some unusual and deft touches; the undertaker arriving to measure Alices mother for her coffin whilst she is still alive. Watch out for a replay of the Passion story at the end with Alice as an innocent Christ figure and her father as the evil deity refusing to let the cup pass from her; its quite striking.
In the other books I've read by Barbara Comyns, there has been quite a cast of unloving parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, no doubt reflecting the state of the world as experienced by young women and children (Comyns' main characters) in the early decades of the twentieth century, the time in which she grew up.
I mean, it's called The Vet's Daughter, and what could be more adorable or summer-ish than a story coming out of London in the 1950s, of a daughter and her veterinarian father? what could be more adorable or summer-ish than this pale blue, 133 page novel, with pictures of whimsical legs of pantyhose blowing on the front cover? I am lucky; I am neither the victim of physical abuse NOR depressed, but the author, Barbara Comyns was, and this novel was clearly a catharsis that she needed. How can I rate one woman's need to have a catharsis, or this end result?
I thought it was an interesting idea and picked a novel by each author and The vet's daughter is my first one. An interesting read but not a book I will be recommending.
Alice's mother sides with the walls, her voice heard when her husband isn't home. Her daughter didn't walk until she was two. A good book to not be finished when father comes home. I felt sorrier for Alice when her dying mother hopes that the gifts were from her husband instead. This was when the story lived, when she walks out on her leash, sensing the end of the line before it comes. Alice meets up with a conniving pair later on in the book who could've been an understudy for the baddies Twite faces. It was going good when Alice falters at a core belief in in world goodness. The attractive man she does want is turned off when he sees Alice levitating in her sleep. I don't know about the random bed levitation once she is set up to live as companion to the Blinker's mother. By the time she's back home and walking into a paper bag of make us lots of money with a levitating trick I didn't care too much. It would have been better if she had never left home, or found something more than "Save me, Blinker" to live for. I believe that, in the beginning.
I long to float towards a ceiling. I long to be drawn across a frozen pond by some starry man-hunk (a sort of late-Victorian Ice Castles where the protagonist is blind on the inside.
All along, Comyns writes so believably, eloquently mixing the mundane with the horrific so that when we get to the point where this book verges into the unreal, what happens now seems no stranger or any less plausible than anything in this novel so far. This is my first book by Barbara Comyns but far from the last.
Alice, the local vet's daughter, recounts a life so bleak and downtrodden that it could easily rival something from Dickens. A brutal father, a mother with spirit and body long ago broken and a home filled with animals suffering various ailments are all described in the detached journalistic manner of someone who has come to accept the life (?) or lack of surrounding them. But there might be hope: Alice has a chance for escape and in doing so comes to discover a hidden talent so unique (unbelievably so) that her dreary life could quite possibly be lifted.
With her second husband she lived in Spain for eighteen years.