Friday, December 31, 2010
Forgotten Book Friday: The Hours Before Dawn
Exhausted with the care of her infant son, Michael, whom she can't get to settle through the night, and two young girls, Louise Henderson feels like her life is unraveling. Her husband feels neglected, her neighbours complain, and she can't keep up with the endless household tasks.
When the Hendersons decide to take in a lodger, Vera Brandon, Louise in her sleepless stupor wonders if she isn't imagining things: like Vera creeping into Michael's room when she said that she would be going out; Vera's seducing of her husband; a nagging feeling that she's somehow met Vera Brandon somewhere before.....
Anyone who has read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper will be sure to sympathize with Louise's mounting terror. Is she really going mad, or does Vera Brandon intentionally mean her harm?
Though the subject matter does not readily suggest it, Ms. Fremlin is a keen observer of human nature, and her prose is evidence of her extraordinarily sharp wit. Her most brilliant portrayals are those of the children, especially Harriet, who sets tea out in the hallway (where it is inevitably trod upon) for her Teddy yet argues with the inexorable logic of a Socrates.
It is a wonder and a shame to Miss Lemon that Celia Fremlin is today largely forgotten. One could do worse than to resolve to remember her in the New Year.