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Horrible title. I saw it and my imagination was running very wild - it's pre WWII - still - it does put me off.
I have her "Our Spoons came from Woolworth" on the top of a pile. I think it should be very good.


I've read Skin Chairs, Spoons, and Vet's Daughter and enjoyed them all. I agree they are a little "different."


Our teaspoons came from Woolworths is one of my favorite books ever.
I must immediately rush out and order the Skin chairs

yes a terrible title
like the WONDERFUL Kate Winslet movie called Hideous Kinky.
I LOVE Barbara Comyns
she makes me need to write myself --I find her utterly inspiring.

Merry Christmas!

Christine Harding

Haven't read this one, but I adore Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, Sisters by a River, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, and A Touch of Mistletoe. They are all rather macabre, and although they are funny, there is a dark edge to them which makes you shiver.


The title is a little off-putting, but once you get into the story it really isn't so much about the chairs as the families and especially the young narrator. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. I think normally I would have started with Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, too, but this was my last postal book which came in the mail, so I just read it before passing it on to the next person in my reading group. I'm glad I finally read her!


I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. She's someone who I know wonder why I waited so long to try. I hope to pick up another of her books very soon.


Merry Christmas to you, too, Elizabeth! I have several of Esther Freud's books including Hideous Kinky--you make me want to go and pull my copy from my bookshelf! The title is really something, but the story is great. I can't wait to read more--she seems quite well known and much liked--I didn't realize, but after seeing everyone's comments I think I will not wait too long to read another of her books!


I have all the books you mention lined up and am so glad I have finally discovered her. I think I will have to start with Our Spoons first. When I started reading the descriptions of the books I think The Skin Chairs almost sounds the most tame of the lot! :) Happy Christmas Christine!


I love love love Barbara Comyns, and I'm with you on Ivy Compton-Burnett; I feel as though I should like her but have never been able to get into any of her books. Glad you liked Comyns!


I always knew we had very similar taste in books!
Happy New Year.


I've yet to read any of her work but look forward to it, especially after reading your review.


I've only tried on Ivy Compton-Burnett--maybe I'll do better with another of her books. I had no idea that Barbara Comyns was so popular--I should have read her before now I think. Oh well, will rectify that and read more in the new year.


It's nice finding another reader whose tastes overlap, isn't it! We'll have to share book recommendations! Happy New Year to you, too!


It took me a while to get around to her, too, but now she is most certainly on my radar.


I really want to read Comyns and I had hoped to find something by her when I was at the used book store the other day, but alas, nothing. I will have to borrow from the library or purchase new I guess, or haunt the used bookshops until something turns up.


Definitely keep an eye out for her--I really liked her. Maybe your library will have some of her books. I was hoping mine would have something by her but surprisingly we don't have anything. She's sort of different but in a good way!


Although I love writing from this era, I have always felt a little bit uncertain about reading Barbara Comyns. I can't even tell you why, just a feeling that her eccentricity won't be for me (which is odd in itself as I normally love eccentric writers). I think I must try her one day, if for no other reason than to shake off an unfair prejudice. I love good characterisation in stories, after all!


I wasn't quite sure what I was in for when I picked up this book. I kept putting off reading her until it showed up as a postal book club book so I was urged on to read it sooner than later. She is very eccentric I agree--and I wonder if her other books are even more so. If you do pick her up, this one might be a good place to start. I plan on trying more of her work now that I know what to expect!


I have The Vet's Daughter lined up for next year's reading -- I've looked for other titles but haven't yet found any. The comments about dark edges and eccentricity may require me to push this one up the list ;)


Thank you for your blog post. I found your statement about reading quite profound and if it's OK with you, I'd like to add an adaption of the quote to my quotes collection. Here's the link: and here's the quote I'd like to use: After reading a book, I'm satisfied if I feel I've been somewhere and done something. I just love this quote. I've added a link back to your post. Let me know if you're OK with me using your quote. I'll email you with this comment to ensure you receive my request.


Isn't it funny how unusual narratives can sometimes make them all the more appealing? I found a few used copies of her Viragos and still have one more coming in the mail. Happily NYRB Classics publishes The Vet's Daughter--I have that to read, too!


Thanks Cynthia for the comment and for wanting to use a quote--you are more than welcome to do so! And thanks for the email. Best wishes!

Simon T

I must have missed this review in the Christmas rush, Danielle, and have just come to it from your latest post. Lovely review, and I'm so pleased you liked The Skin Chairs and want to read more! (I haven't had the book and notebook back yet, so I am eagerly waiting to see what people thought.)

Comyns is one of those writers whom nobody has heard of outside the blogosphere, but everyone here seems to have read, or been intending to read! Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead is my favourite of hers, but she is consistently wonderful - and eccentric and a little dark (but not gory, so I can cope.) I've also had the privilege of seeing the house and village she grew up in.


She is unusual, isn't she? I know I wouldn't have come across her had it not been for bloggers. I own Their Spoons Came from Woolworth, but never seemed to get around to reading it, so thanks very much for the gentle nudge. She was one of my great finds last year and I have been snapping up all the books by her I can find. I don't mind eccentric at all--kind of like it actually--makes for interesting reading. I will have to pick another book by her to read this year and think Who Was Changed is one that I bought in my little Barbara Comyns splurge from last year. How cool that you have seen her house--I would love that! Anyway--thanks for introducing her to me properly--see we've reciprocated since you bought a copy of the book I chose, too! :)

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