Page 7 - PB Cat 1999-2021
P. 7

 NO 6
The Victorian Chaise-longue
The front endpaper is early 1950s ‘shiny cream curtains printed with huge pink roses’.
A postcard reproduction of the Islington house which is the setting for the book accompanies each copy; 1999 commissioned painting by David Gentleman.
This ‘slim, brilliant, very scary novel’ (John Sandoe Books) came out in 1953, four years after Little Boy Lost (No. 28); it is about a young married woman who lies down on a chaise-longue and wakes to find herself imprisoned in the body of her alter ego ninety years before.
It impressed PD James, author of the Preface,‘as one of the most skilfully
told and terrifying short novels of its decade.’ And Penelope Lively described it in the PQ as ‘disturbing and compulsive’, commenting: ‘This is time- travel fiction, but with a difference... instead of making it into a form of adventure, what Marghanita Laski has
done is to propose that such an experience would be the ultimate terror... so Melanie/Milly clings to the belief that she is dreaming for as long as she possibly can; the point at which she is forced to abandon this comfort and search for other explanations is her plunge into nightmare.
‘In the stifling, menacing atmosphere in which Melanie finds herself there is another dark, unspoken theme. Sex. Milly has been in some way disgraced... Once again the chaise-longue is the hinge between the two planes of existence. The site of rapture, of ecstasy – that is the implication...’
120pp PERSEPHONE BOOKS ISBN 9780953478040

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