- Paperback: 99 pages
- Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (June 22, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0953478041
- ISBN-13: 978-0953478040
Marghanita Laski was born October 24, 1915 in London, England. Though she wrote several works of fiction, literary biography and drama, she’s all but slid into oblivion today. Fortunately, her novel The Victorian Chaise-Longue was rescued from obscurity and re-published by Persephone Books recently. Otherwise this phenomenal short novel may have become lost to the ages.
If you haven’t discovered Persephone, I highly recommend you stop by their website. If you’ve been around my blog very often you’ve probably already heard me talk about them, so I won’t go on very long this time. Suffice to say, their gorgeous grey covers and distinctive endpapers (each in some way matching the theme of the book it adorns) look absolutely stunning on the shelf. To the right is the endpaper for The Victorian Chaise-Longue.
The main character of this novel, a young married woman named Melanie, is in the process of recovering from tuberculosis when the novel opens. She’s recently had a baby, but she hasn’t seen much of him. The doctor won’t approve of anything that may overly excite her, so to his mind it’s best she just sees him from the doorway until he’s certain Melanie will recover. Already having endured bed rest for months, Melanie is growing very weary of staring at the same four walls.
One day her doctor decides it will do her good to have a change of scene. He approves of her moving to another room, to lie upon the chaise-longue. Ecstatic for any bit of change in her dull life, Melanie settles into the new room. After taking a nap, Melanie wakes to find she’s been transported back in time 90 years. It’s the chaise-longue itself that’s supernaturally carried her back into the life and body of her alter ego, Milly, another young woman suffering from tuberculosis. Unlike Melanie, Milly’s unmarried, but she’s also had a baby. This is just one of the many things Melanie discovers in this strange and horrible journey back in time, as she desperately searches to find her way back home.
I won’t tell you how the book ends. It’s too good, and I hope you’ll track it down and read it for yourself. This is a short read that really makes the chills run up your spine. It makes me wish there were more of Laski’s novels readily available.