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review 2020-03-04 09:17
A tale of abuse and limited freedom
The Vet's Daughter: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) - Barbara Comyns,Jane Gardam

My tutor recommended I read this when he read the proposal for my end of module assignment. My story is about losing a parent and reevaluating that and other relationships, but it has a magical realism slant. The reason for recommending this book, he said, was that this is a very straight story that suddenly becomes supernatural at the end. Having read it I suspect his memory of the tale is flawed. 


The Vet's Daughter is a tale of a young woman who is stuck in a very unhealthy situation, or rather a series of unhealthy situations, with no means to escape. Her father is abusive to the point that she fears he will one day kill her. Her mother becomes very ill and dies early in the book and her father brings a housekeeper/mistress into the house (home implies a safe place). The mistress is manipulative and frequently nasty to Alice (the first person narrator), but the most unforgivable thing she does is

when she attempts to sell the young woman's virginity. This isn't said explicitly, but it is the only explanation that makes sense.


Between the harrowing nature of Alice's days she finds peace in moments of levitation, that she suspects everyone experiences but never talks about. This freedom is short lived and eventually leads to a tragic end. 

(spoiler show)



It's evocatively written and a powerful read. 

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review 2020-01-05 18:52
Vain Shadow
Vain Shadow - Jane Hervey

The premise for this book is a simple one: the patriarch of a rich family dies and his children gather on the country estate to deal with the aftermath of the fathers death.


The book is told in four chapters, each chapter spanning over a day leading up to the burial. Within the chapters we jump between the characters and get a glimpse of their inner thoughts and their lives. And Jane Hervey really does a good job in giving each of her characters a distinct voice and personality.


However, this book is supposed to be comedic and unfortunately, I didn´t find it funny at all. So this book didn´t quite hit the mark for me in that respect and the story wasn´t a suprising one. So in the end, this was an okay read for me.




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text 2019-12-31 15:45
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 234 pages.
Vain Shadow - Jane Hervey

I have treated myself to another bookish Christmas present, a year-long Persephone book subscription. So for the next twelve months, I´m getting a wonderful Persephone book in the mail every month. 


The first book I received is "Vain Shadow", a book BrokenTune has brought to my attention and which I liked the sound of. And it is off to a good start. Right from the get go (and after the death of the patriarch of the family) tensions are rising between the family members. 



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text 2019-07-28 16:11
Reading progress update: I've read 224 out of 266 pages.
The Glass Cell: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) - Patricia Highsmith

I have such a huge dislike for Hazel. She is one of the most hypocritical characters that I have ever come across in a book. 

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text 2019-07-28 12:12
Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 268 pages.
The Glass Cell: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) - Patricia Highsmith

‘Like getting you a job? Close the door, Phil.’

The way she said the last words hurt Carter more than anything else she had said. She was in complete possession of herself, and thinking of Timmie’s sleep, of course, thinking of Timmie overhearing some of this. Carter closed the door slowly, resting both hands on the knob, and pondered the terrible efficiency of women: Hazel running the house in Fremont and slaving in a dress shop at the same time, Hazel being quite a good mother to Timmie, Hazel going to school and getting a master’s degree, Hazel keeping Sullivan happy and on the string all this time, Hazel – up to now – keeping him happy, too.

‘Thanks.’ She glanced at him sharply.

Carter felt then that she actually disliked him, that she disliked the person he had become after prison, perhaps. Certainly she hadn’t disliked him before. He had a feeling of being swept away, annihilated physically. It lasted only a few seconds. He wiped a hand across his forehead and faced her.

Gripping stuff. It's one of those were Highsmith shows the reader exactly what's going on with the characters and you just want to shake them.

The grooming, the deceit, the descend of all of them into some sort of private hell. 


This is very much like all of the Highsmith stories I really like, and yet I have no idea how this is going to play out. 


And I love again, that she's chosen to set this gritty story among "polite society". I can just imagine Highsmith smirking at how this would have unsettled the perfect world of pretense. 

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