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on 2 August 2017
Did not enjoy this story at all
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 December 2011
Lovely book, that can only be described as the literary form of naive art! Comyns recounts episodes from her childhood, brought up in a genteel if debt-laden family. It put me in mind of Nancy Mitford's account of her own family. Irascible Daddy, vague, deaf Mammy, and six children who for want of outside company spend much time together.
Comyns writes in a unique child-like style, with eccentric spelling and an antipathy to semi-colons, so that phrases run into each other:

'Mammy had always looked and been rather vague, she had a kind of gypsoflia mind, all little bits and pieces held together by whisps' (sic)

Far from being a sentimental account, Comyns recalls the horrific alongside the magical- villagers drowning in the floods; her father's violence; ill-treatment of animals.
I LOVE Comyns' work !
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on 1 February 2016
‘The Vet’s Daughter’; ‘Our Spoons Came from Woolworths’ and ‘Sisters by a River’, were bought at the same time and are commented on together: Barbara Comyns has a quality that extends across all these novels, different as they are in storylines. And it is her style, her original voice that is key to the enjoyment for me, regardless of subject matter.
‘The Vet’s Daughter’ is described as gothic, with levitation featuring strongly in the blurb. Enough to have put me off buying this one on its own.
But, the ability of Comyns to combine convincingly, childlike perceptions with adult vocabulary (depending on the book, the character may be a child with a certain sophistication of thought – as in ‘Vet’s Daughter, or, as in ‘Our spoons came from Woolworth’s an adult, with a peculiar naivety) is something I’ve not come across before.
These books have been passed around friends and family and, it is fair to say, they were taken by surprise by Comyns’ individual style: also fair to say, if you trust in the author you are likely to thoroughly enjoy reading her. I do and will buy more by her.
No males with whom I share books, have yet picked any of these three books. It’s a shame; I would be interested in what they make of this style. (These three books each have a female, main protagonist.
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on 16 August 2016
This is a remarkable little book - not much of a storyline, but you get to spend some crackpot times with five (the 6th never gets a mention) off-the-wall sisters, their strange detached mother who feels to the reader like she's floating away all the time, their melancholy violent whisky-drinking father, and their belligerent terminally disappointed grandmother. Oh, and there's various maids and governesses that come and go in less than cordial circumstances. The family is barely functional and is continually on its beam end financially. What a queer cast of characters they are, in their disintegrating eccentric household, and the tale is told in a matchingly eccentric prose style that has a naive charm about it that irritates only sometimes. It sort of reminded me of Cold Comfort Farm but it's not a spoof, rather you get the feeling Comyns is trying to be completely truthful - a bit alarming, because there are some shocking dark bits. I picked this book up because I'd loved The Vet's Daughter, and I am going to read many more of Barbara Comyn's books. She's a writer with a very unique voice. Definitely recommended.
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on 2 February 2009
For fans only, I had not entirely realised how autobiagraphical this book was going to be, it's an excellent companion to 'Who was Dead and who was changed' and for anybody interested in the themes Comyns goes on to explore at greater length, there all here. Virago elected to keep the original poor spelling intact which makes for hard reading sometimes, there is no particuler narrative, this being a collection of stories the auther told her children about her own childhood, so at times it can grate. Otherwise interesting, human, funny, and a little bit horrific.
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on 19 August 2016
Fascinating, amusing entertainment. Bizarre, yet with the guarantee of autobiographical truth that allows for real magic. A story of lost time in the faded aristocracy of England between the wars
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on 26 February 2015
A very magical memoir, distinct and unforgettable voice and style, moving and funny in equal measure. An extraordinary and unbelievably overlooked author
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on 27 June 2015
read only part of this book as an animal lover I found it pretty distasteful.
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on 31 July 2013
A quirky tale written in an interesting style which well reflects the age of the writer at the time. It is especially interesting if you are familiar with the area where the author lived with her family.
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on 12 November 2016
Weird but wonderful. So funny.
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