Every year I do a series of Xmas & New Year entries on the blog, helped and encouraged by suggestions and recommendations from my lovely readers. You can see some of the pictures in this entry, and find (endless!) more Xmas books via the tags at the bottom of the page.
Sisters by the River by Barbara Comyns
[spelling and punctuation as in the original]
The new year wasn’t nice at our house, the grown-ups got simply frightful, they all drank too much and got depressed, I can’t think why they did, if it made them unhappy, Daddy was the worst, he would get all sentimental and morbid and keep saying this was the last year we would spend in the house, and we could expect the bailiffs any day now and Granny and Mammy would cry and have another drink to help them to bear up, then Granny and Daddy would both say ‘This is the last New Year we shall see, they could feel Death coming nearer’ and Granny would cry more than ever and say no one wanted you when you were old, and they never told you anything, and young people were hard and looked like strumpets anyway.
Just before 12 there was an interuption in our misery (perhaps Daddy’s trouble was incometax, I’ve never paid any but I know people who do hate it) The intruption was Will Gardiner come to let the New Year in, he had red hair and if you don’t have a red haired person to let the New Year in you are in for the most awful time…
It was a relief when Will Gardiner came in and blessed the house, things began to brighten up, and they drank beer and eat mincepies and the grown-ups forgot how miserable they were and we remembered there were still two weeks of the holidays left, and things became quite normal again.
commentary: This description of New Year makes me laugh a lot, I don’t know why I find it so funny. I didn’t particularly like this book, and the consciously fake-childish spelling and lack of structure is infuriating. It’s the story of a set of sisters living in a dire situation somewhere in the Midlands, probably in the 1920s. Although it is a novel, it is also highly autobiographical, and the narrator’s name is Barbara. It’s very gothic – miserable family, no money, Granny in the bedroom, girls left to their own devices – and a lot of people really like it, but it is not for me.
But – a miserable new year. Income tax and drink. Excellent.
New Year card from the NYPL .