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on 17 May 2017
I was disappointed not to have joyed this story, but found the details too upsetting, being an animal lover. Not a pleasant experience.
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on 6 April 2015
I didn't find it as striking or absorbing as Comyn's earlier work, "Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead" - the quirky surreal element limited to Alice's levitational feats. Also, it lacks the black humour of "Who Was Changed". Instead, the unpalatable injustices of life are presented in a dour, unrelenting simplicity through the eyes of Alice, victim and heroine, who endures her daily trials, big and small, with a limp stoicism. It makes for a downbeat melancholy feel, emphasised by the austere, 1950's parochial setting.

I wonder too if Alice, at seventeen, is drawn a shade too naive, too childlike for her years. There does seem something stunted and switched-off about her, dare I say insipid? Not to say such young women don't exist, just that her passivity does rather mute the drama. At times her father's treatment resembles that of a vicious schoolboy torturing a prone, insentient insect.
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on 2 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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This is my first acquaintance with Barbara Comyns. This novel seems to be generally regarded as one of her best. It is agreeable and possessed of a strong sense of time and place. In a way I think this is both the book’s strength and its weakness. By contemporary standards the writing and the events described seem rather muted.

If Barbara Comyns reminds me of anyone it is Barbara Pym, wonderful at her best but variable in standard. Here we find the same delight in particularities, but also a fresh dimension, which dominates the second half of Ms. Comyns’ novel. I find the treatment of levitation and its metaphorical or symbolic implications less successful than the observations on people, relationships and places which make up the earlier sections of the book.

When all is said and done, while I find the book not entirely satisfying, there is certainly sufficient of interest to prompt further incursions into the author’s writing.
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on 1 January 2016
A strange fairy tale about the hated daughter of an abused wife, who finds that she has the power of levitation.
I have read several novels by the author and found that the plots are interesting, the stories are redolent of the period in which they are set, and the style is unusual and interesting. For me though they are spoilt by the whiney, mealy-mouthed victimhood of her heroines. Please Barbara, write about a woman with a bit of gumption...
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on 29 July 2016
What a very very extraordinary and magnificent little book! Right up my street! Highly original, and a brilliantly compulsive read. The voice of the main character, Alice, 17, is completely compelling. I suspect she will stay with me for a very long time. And the storyline is shrewd and wonderful. I absolutely loved it. Excuse me if I go now and just see what else I can find by Barbara Comyns ... Perfect!
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on 4 February 2017
A very depressing book, but interesting....
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on 19 August 2013
Barbara Comyns is an expectional writer, so why isn't she better known? If you haven't read this, you should. Then read her other novels. You're in for a treat.
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on 26 September 2015
This is the second book I have read by Barbara Commyns - she writes in a very distinctive, easily read style. Can recommend wholeheartedly.
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on 25 November 2014
Good ,as always
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