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The Vet's Daughter (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – April 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Comyns's world is weird and wonderful. Tragic, comic and completely bonkers all in one, I'd go as far as to call her something of a neglected genius.” —Lucy Scholes, The Guardian 


"I’d like also to recommend The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns, which hit me like a dangerous drug earlier this year: one of the best books I’ve ever read." --Wesley Stace, The Believer

About the Author

Barbara Comyns (1909–1992) was born in Bidford-on-Avon, in the English county of Warwickshire, one of six children of an increasingly unsuccessful Birmingham brewer. Living on the run-down but romantic family estate and receiving her education from governesses, she began to write and illustrate stories at the age of ten. After her father’s death, she attended art school in London and married a painter, with whom she had two children she supported by trading antiques and classic cars, modeling, breeding poodles, and renovating apartments. A second marriage, to Richard Comyns Carr, who worked in the Foreign Office, took place during World War II. Comyns wrote her first book, Sisters by the River (1947), a series of sketches based on her childhood, while living in the country to escape the Blitz, which is also when she made an initial sketch for The Vet’s Daughter. This, however, she put aside to complete Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950), about her first marriage, and Who was Changed and Who was Dead (1955). The Vet’s Daughter was published in 1959. Among Barbara Comyns’s other books are the novels The Skin Chairs (1962) and The Juniper Tree (1985), and Out of the Blue into the Red (1960), a work of nonfiction about Spain, where she lived for eighteen years.
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; First Printing edition (April 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170298
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books. I have read 2 of Comyn's other novels and enjoyed them but I prefer this one by a wide margin. A previous viewer has compared her to Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, and Penelope Fitzgerald. I see the legitimacy of the Fitzgerald comparison and especially the similarity to Bowen but not so much the Woolf comparison. I am sure there is legitimacy to her opinion but would urge readers of these reviews not to be put off if you are not a Woolf fan. I do not like Woolf but love Comyns. Her style is strange, nightmarish, gothic, and yet grimly realistic in many ways. I do not think it is a plot wrecker to mention that early on we see that this sad young girl has the gift of levitation. I guarantee you will never forget this book's vivid characters, atmosphere, and plot. By the way, another excellent novel involving levitation is Paul Auster's Mr. Vertigo.
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Format: Paperback
Every sentence of this book startles, as if written by a person who understood language differently and better than other writers. It is a very short novel and an astounding one, a remarkable trip into the consciousness of a young girl who is subtly estranged from the world around her. Comyns writes in her own tradition, but she bears a sure relation to Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, and Penelope Fitzgerald, whose devotees will certainly love this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Vet's Daughter is one of a kind. The writing itself is gorgeous, and if you are a writer, the attention to hyper-detailing and hallucinatory images alone would make this short novel worth your time. Comyns has created a world view where the narrator doesn't grow up to understand reality in the same terms as those surrounding her, which makes for a fascinating, supernatural tale.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The writing in this book is so strange and vivid... reading this small book left me breathless. It starts out as a small story about a wretched girl and her horrible upbringing, then becomes kind of a fantasy, which I didn't so much care for. But still, the whole book is so original that I have recommended it to a bunch of friends.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, delivered on time.
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