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A Touch of Mistletoe (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – Aug 1991

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Paperback, Aug 1991
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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Viking Pr (Aug. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140162240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140162240
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Barbara Comyns (1909-92) was born in Bidford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. She was an artist and writer, worked in advertising, dealt in old cars and antiques, bred poodles and developed property. She was twice married, and she and her second husband lived in Spain for eighteen years, returning to the UK in the early 1970s. She is the author of eleven books, including Sisters by a River (1947), Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950), The Vet's Daughter (1959), The Skin Chairs (1962) and A Touch of Mistletoe (1967). She died in Shropshire in 1992. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
Despite its title - A Touch of Mistletoe is not a Christmas tale. The "Mistletoe" is a reference to depression which afflicts some of the characters. Neither of these two facts however should deter anyone from reading this book and it is a finely crafted and excellent novel - quite sad but also slightly uplifting in a quiet and unsuspected way.

The story is that of Vicky who is also the narrator. Vicky takes the reader from the very beginning of her adult life through a huge number of adventures, misfortunes and tough lessons. The characters of Vicky's life are drawn wonderfully and are all very convincing - the pitiful alcoholic mother, the tortured artist husband, the drunken, unstable, exhilarating writer lover, the grey hoardes of bar room chats, the dependable sister and brother in law. Barbara Comyns explores the character of Vicky through the things which happen to her and through her involvement in a series of unsatisfactory relationships. Although in many ways Vicky's life is beset on all sides by misfortune, she tells the story in a stark but pretty and entirely unsentimental way - and this is what makes the novel so remarkable. The reader gets to the end feeling as though they have heard a human tale without embroidery and had the satisfaction of seeing Vicky develop into a rounded character with a strong but not overbearing sense of herself.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alex Magpie on 17 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a story of a girl growing up and the fortunes and misfortunes that surround her. Never sentimental, Comyns describes poverty, child birth and despair in a moving and often amusing way. There is a monumental sense of loss in the novel and I wouldn't reccommend it to someone who wants a light read. Having said that Comyns doesn't let her prose get too heavy and the optimism of her heroine, Vicky, who bounces back from tragedy and bad luck, is heart warming in its own quiet way.
Allthough not ground breaking or sophisticated ATOM is an engaging, thoughtful tale about the passage of time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Happy- Go -Lucky 10 Nov. 2008
By K. Dain Ruprecht - Published on
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this in a used bookstore, misshelved in the Young Adult section and marked down to a dollar. As I love the Virago Modern Classics series in general, and some of the most interesting books I've read have been misshelved in the Young Adult section, I bought it. I'd never heard of Barbara Comyns but was instantly drawn into this apparently autobiographical novel of the life of an impoverished upper-middle class British girl from the 1920's through the 1960's. And what a life! Our heroine endures an alcoholic mother who forces the family to scrub floors all day long, the arbitrary withholding of her inheritance, a period of near-slavery at a dog kennel in Amsterdam, dire poverty in pre-War London, a model-beautiful sister who finds the perfect rich husband, a marriage to a schizophrenic artist who dies of insulin shock, more dire poverty as a single mother, another marriage to an unrepentant alcoholic who leaves her, The Blitz, a scary and painful illegal abortion, middle-aged quasi-prostitution, and a final marriage to a dull control freak whom she doesn't love. Sound like a grueling slog in the gutter? Well, Comyns makes this all sound like great fun, really. She writes in a breathless, wide-eyed way that, while acknowledging the dark side of life (the killing "mistletoe" of the title), refuses to wallow in it. One could say almost stereotypically British, she brightly bounces on, finding joy in art, friends and family -- generally considering her life a great success. She was either one of these fortunate people blessed with a sanguine temperament, or else found peace enough in her later years to see her youth through rose-colored glasses, I don't know. Either way, I loved reading it.
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