It was several days before the doctor came. It was my father who sent for him. Even he noticed something was wrong with Mother. When he saw her all doubled up over the dining room sideboard, he suddenly bellowed, “For Christ’s sake, woman, send for the doctor, and if he can’t put you right, keep out of my sight!”
Best Book of the Week!
Alice and her mother live in terror of her father, the vet, in this novel written in 1959. He ignores Alice and treats his wife with brutality and contempt. Alice is in her teens, living in a dreary house in a London suburb with only one friend, a deaf girl, when her mother becomes ill. The one bright light for Alice is it brings vulgar but kindly Mrs. Churchill to help.
Mrs. Churchill continues to come after Alice’s mother dies, but within weeks Alice’s father has brought his lover home to live there, so Mrs. Churchill leaves. Rosa Fisher moves into Alice’s mother’s room and stays until she tries to pimp Alice out to an acquaintance.
Alice occasionally seems to have what first appears to be some kind of fits. But they are actually the slow development of an uncanny ability.
As with Sisters by a River, the simple, innocent manner in which this novel is narrated gives it a distinctive tone. Alice is a naive and unsophisticated girl whose isolation from society means she doesn’t always understand very common things. The plot is impossible to predict, as it takes us to some unusual places. The Vet’s Daughter is another strange and vivid novel from Barbara Comyns.