There's something of a mystery about this book and its origins, because it reads like an autobiography with such wonderful detail - and in fact many of the events described mirror Barbara Comyns' life. It is, anyway, such a delightful book, with the personality and character of the author inscribed so indelibly on the page that it reads like a true story. Sophia Fairclough's life with her first husband Charles is mostly a disaster, not aided by the reaction to the marriage of Charles's parents. Charles is a painter, but not a very good one. He hardly ever sells anything and as long as he has his cigarettes and his painting materials he is blind to whatever else is going on around him. He carelessly eats whatever is in the house - once a cake Sophia was saving for their baby Sandor's first birthday. When funds are too low to support them He tries to persuade Sophia to send Sandor away to an orphanage, which she resists. Any money coming into the household is earned by Sophia, posing for various artists, one of whom seduces her with disastrous consequences.
Sophia loves animals - even a newt she keeps in a bowl, and later, when she has freed herself from Charles and obtained a housekeeper's job, a fox cub found in the garden of her employer. There are several deaths, including her second child, and the wife of her employer but these are not dwelt on. The description of the birth of Sandor is remarkable for the brutality with which women had to deal in those days - though dates are not mentioned, it feels like the 1920s, especially going by Ms Comyns' portrait with two dogs on the cover.
This book has a wonderfully happy ending which I will leave readers to discover for themselves. Packed with incident and accident, very much a bohemian life, this book is an enchanting read.