In The House of Dolls Barbara Comyns blends surreal imagery and darkly comic humour with the realities of day-to-day life.
Evelyn and Berti are divorcees, addicted to tight trousers and drink, surviving on small annuities and they do not get on well together. Though well past their prime, there is an air of breeding about them but something distinctly odd too. They live in a boarding-house in Kensington dreaming of the past, real and imagined, and better days. They have established a bordello for elderly gentle people in their living-room and a little makeshift prostitution helps to pay the rent.
The business has its problems: their landlady is a reluctant madam, Ivy is in love with a dentist from Putney, one of their gentlemen suddenly dies. What will become of Evelyn and Berti?
‘A magical novel . . . essential reading for anyone who appreciates good fiction.’ Independent
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I was first introduced to Sophia Fairclough in 1985 by my new English teacher, the kind who came to lessons without notes and charmed those susceptible to such charm with his raw excitement for good...Read more