Tuesday 27 September 2022

The Vet's Daughter

Finished August 28
The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns, introduction by Kathryn Davis

This novel first came out in 1959, although Comyns started writing it in 1947. The title character, named Alice, is a teen as the story begins. As indicated, her father is a veterinarian, one who treats animals like objects and has no feelings for them. Her mother is unwell, and both of them live in fear of him. Alice tries to spare her mother so she can rest, and the two have quiet talks about her mother's childhood when alone in the evening. 
After the death of her mother, things become more difficult for Alice. A friendly and kindly housekeeper and a young veterinarian help mitigate her circumstances, but the woman that her father takes up with is a force against her. 
Alice retreats often to a world of fantasy, pulling on bits of her mother's memories of childhood in Scotland, and fairy tales helped along by an uncanny ability she discovers in herself. 
Alice finds her thoughts can take her away from her circumstances, but she is aware that others find it unnerving. 
This is an odd book, with a strange premise, but one that nevertheless had me enthralled from the beginning. Alice is a character that I empathized with and hoped would find a better situation than the one she is born into.

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