The House of Dolls by Barbara Comyns / ISBN 9781916254725 / 156-page paperback reprint from Turnpike Books (UK)
“A magical novel… essential reading for anyone who appreciates good fiction.”—Independent
"It’s a wonderfully funny book, one of my favourites by this supremely talented writer!"--JacquiWine
“Comyns’s world is weird and wonderful… (there’s) something uniquely original about her voice… A neglected genius.”—Lucy Scholes, Observer
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 are not exactly tarts, but 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?
Barbara Comyns was born in 1909 and grew up on her family’s run-down estate. She began to write at the age of ten. After art school in London she married an artist, John Pemberton, in 1931 and had two daughters. When the marriage ended, she supported herself through modelling, selling antiques and classic cars, and breeding poodles. Her first novel, Sisters by a River, was published in 1947 and Our Spoons Came from Woolworths in 1950. Barbara Comyns died in 1992.