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Review: The Victorian Chaise-Lounge, by Marghanita Laski


This short (99 pages) novella is a horror story of sorts. Melanie Langdon is a happily married woman who is recuperating from tuberculosis and the birth of her child, sometime in the 1950s (when the book was published). On her first day out of her sickroom, Melanie lays upon an old Victorian chaise-lounge, and finds herself transported back in time, into the body of Milly, a single woman living in 1864.

Such a short novel and so complicated to explain. It’s a horror story, but completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s also a time slip novel, but again, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Melanie/Milly is incredibly preoccupied with the idea of death, for one thing; I know of no other time travel book in which a character actually imagines her alter-ego in the past as rotting and decaying. It’s pretty creepy, to say the least.

It’s a novel which is incredible preoccupied with the idea of being “saved,” in a religious sense, and about identity—it turns out that Melanie and Milly are much more similar, in fact, than you might think at first (in fact, Mealnie finds herself actually remembering Melly’s thoughts, which is also pretty freaky). I’m not sure I really understood all the ecclesiastical stuff, and I wasn’t too keen on how melodramatic this novella was at times. Also, we never really, truly are told what Milly’s story is; Melanie has to find things out by inference, which means that the reader does the same thing. Still, there were parts of the novella I enjoyed; it may have just been too much for me.

This is Persephone #6 (endpaper below)

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Unknown said…
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