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Book Title: The Juniper Tree|
The author of the book: Barbara Comyns
Date of issue: December 31st 2003
ISBN 13: 9780312302191
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 616 KB
Edition: St. Martin's Griffin
Read full description of the books The Juniper Tree:This is one of Barbara Coymns’ later novels. It is based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm of the same name; you know then that this isn’t going to be an easy read. The plot is very similar until about the last quarter of the book. Comyns reinterprets the ending in a more feminist way; to say more about that would give too much away.
Comyns weaves the fairy tale into a normal domestic life in a very subtle way. Bella is estranged from her mother, has a scar on her face courtesy of the idiocy of a previous boyfriend who was very controlling and has a child as a result of a one night stand. The father we never meet, but his ethnic origin comes into play several times in the book at telling moments which act as turning points.
From the first paragraph the fairy tale element is very much to the fore:
“I noticed a beautiful fair woman standing in the courtyard outside her house like a statue, standing there so still. As I drew nearer I saw that her hands were moving. She was paring an apple out there in the snow and as I passed, looking at her out of the sides of my eyes, the knife slipped, and suddenly there was blood on the snow. She turned and went into her house before I could offer to help”
Bella gets to know the woman, Gertrude and her husband Bernard and becomes part of their circle of friends, almost family. The Juniper Tree is in the garden and plays an important role, as do the magpies that nest within. Revolving around the main characters are a whole variety of others creating a tension of nationality, gender and even class all contained in what appears to be a gentle slow-paced story narrated by Bella. Yet there is an almost imperceptible undercurrent which builds. Like the fairy tale it is macabre and disturbing. It is beautifully written and quite unexpectedly good. I’ve had it on my bookshelves for years and I should have read it sooner. It explores the nature of friendship, single parenthood, mental health (and its treatment) and many of the sinister undercurrents of human interactions. It’s all centred around a musty antiques and bric-a-brac shop with lots of cups of tea and walks in the park. Very English, but with a real edge and fairy tale quality.
Read information about the authorBarbara Comyns Carr was educated mainly by governesses until she went to art schools in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Her father was a semi-retired managing director of a Midland chemical firm. She was one of six children and they lived in a house on the banks of the Avon in Warwickshire. She started writing fiction at the age of ten and her first novel, Sisters by a River, was published in 1947. She also worked in an advertising agency, a typewriting bureau, dealt in old cars and antique furniture, bred poodles, converted and let flats, and exhibited pictures in The London Group. She was married first in 1931, to an artist, and for the second time in 1945. With her second husband she lived in Spain for eighteen years.
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