"The grandmother cried, 'Don't go yet, tell me more. What about my rose beds?' Her son seized the trumpet... and shouted down its black depths, 'Dead animals are floating everywhere. Your roses are completely covered.'"
At the beginning of June the river floods, ducks swim through the drawing-room windows and Ebin Willoweed rows his daughters round the submerged garden. The grandmother dresses in magenta for her seventy-first-birthday whist drive and looks forward to the first prize of pâté de foie gras. Later Ives the gardener leads a morose procession up river, dragging her to a funeral in a black-draped punt. The miller goes mad and drowns himself and a cottage is set alight. Villagers keep dying and at the house on the river plates are thrown across the luncheon table and a tortoise through a window. The newspaper asks "Who will be smitten by this fatal madness next?" Originally published in 1954, this strange novel with its macabre humor, speaks with Barbara Comyns' unique and magical voice.
Barbara Comyns was born in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire in 1909 and now lives in Twickenham, Middlesex. She is the author of eight novels.
(-- back cover of Virago edition)