Describe yourself: The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett)
How do you feel: All Passion Spent (Vita Sackville-West)
Describe where you currently live: The House At Riverton (Kate Morton)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Cranford (Elizabeth Gaskell)
Your favorite form of transportation: Out Stealing Horses (Per Petterson)
Your best friend is: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson)
You and your friends are: Until It's Over (Nicci French)
What's the weather like: When Will There Be Good News (Kate Atkinson)
You fear: Dark Fire (C J Sansom)
What is the best advice you have to give: Mercy (Jodie Picoult)
Thought for the day: The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones (Alexander McCall Smith)
How I would like to die: One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
My soul's present condition: Love Over Scotland (Alexander McCall Smith)
"The question of vermin is a very pressing one in all the small houses. No woman, however clean, can cope with it. Before their confinements some women go to the trouble of having the room they are to lie in fumigated. In spite of such precautions, bugs have dropped on to the pillow of the sick woman before the visitor's eyes. One woman complained that they dropped into her ears at night."
This was the first Persephone book that I've read, and it was a fabulous introduction. I read this book in one sitting (nearly), which isn't as impressive as it sounds because (a) the book is very slim, and (b) I could not have put the book down midway for anything short of a nuclear holocaust.
The Victorian Chaise Longue is the story of Melanie Langdon, a spoilt upper-class woman who has recently had a baby and is also recovering from tuberculosis which she contracted very early in the pregnancy. The obviously sad situation did not evoke any sympathy in me because of Melanie's flippant and flirtatious attitude. But this attitude is central to the character; the others mollycoddle her like a precocious child. For the first time in months, Melanie is allowed to leave her bedroom and rest on her as-yet-unused chaise-longue, where she falls asleep and....
....wakes up in Victorian England! Yes, that's how sudden and shocking the time-shift is. No blinding light, or spinning Tardis. Just a woman waking up in a time not her own. And that's when the terror starts. Melanie is now Milly, who also suffers from tuberculosis and has recently gone through a terrible experience, the details of which are revealed in the final pages.
The horror of being trapped in a body not your own, in a time not your own, surrounded by people you don't recognise is the stuff of nightmares. Laski has evoked the fear that Melanie experiences superbly. Of course, in a world that has read Stephen King and Dean Koontz, this book will be tame, but it must have been terrifying in the 1950s when it was originally printed.
Adelaide said wearily, '[It is] the twenty-second of April, eigheen hundred and sixtyfour.'
For an instant, for ever, Melanie was bound in timeless fear. Her eyes were forced open, rigid and unblinking, her mouth hung open, the rigid lips stretched in a terrible grin, all her being was rigid with unimaginable terror...only from her mouth there came incoherent dribbling whimperings.
The ending is ambiguous, and I liked it that way. What was more important was Melanie’s realisation that she and Milly are more than just superficially similar, what is different is how society views them.