The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns / ISBN 9781681371313 / 192-page paperback from New York Review Books Classics
I love this writer.
A modern reimagining of a classic fairy tale by one of most bewitching, idiosyncratic British writers of the twentieth century.
“Comyns’s world is weird and wonderful . . . there’s also something uniquely original about her voice. 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 Observer
“The Juniper Tree, which appeared in 1985, is one of Comyns’s most successful, confident and curious productions. It has the clear pure narrative quality of a fable, but also shows a humanity and maturity.” —Margaret Drabble
Bella Winter has hit a low. Homeless and jobless, she is the mother of a toddler by a man whose name she didn’t quite catch, and her once pretty face is disfigured by the scar she acquired in a car accident. Friendless and without family, she’s recently disentangled herself from a selfish and indifferent boyfriend and a cruel and indifferent mother. But she shares a quality common to Barbara Comyns’s other heroines: a bracingly unsentimental ability to carry on. Before too long, Bella has found not only a job but a vocation; not only a place to live but a home and a makeshift family. As Comyns’s novel progresses, the story echoes and inverts the Brothers Grimm’s macabre tale The Juniper Tree. Will Bella’s hard-won restoration to life and love come at the cost of the happiness of others?