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The Victorian Chaise-longue

by Marghanita Laski
Persephone book no:

5 6 7

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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A postcard reproduction of the Islington house which is the setting for the book accompanies each copy; commissioned painting by David Gentleman.

ISBN 9780953478040

This ‘slim, brilliant, very scary novel’ (John Sandoe Books) came out in 1953 and 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 skillfully told and terrifying short novels of its decade.’

And Penelope Lively described it 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…’

This is a short book, almost a novella, but just as powerful as a far longer novel. Persephone also publishes four other books by Marghanita Laski: To Bed with Grand Music (1946), Tory Heaven (1948),  Little Boy Lost (1949), and The Village (1952).

Also available as a Persephone e-book.

An early 1950s fabric: 'shiny cream curtains printed with huge pink roses.'

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Categories: History London Science Fiction Thrillers Victoriana

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