“Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead,” by Barbara Comyns

Novel, 1954

A rather curious, totally compelling and wonderfully atmospheric novel about the spread of madness in an English village. The setting and tone, after an extraordinary opening flood scene, feel very genial, though the presence of death is at turns outrageous and quite shocking. Some strong, weak and driven characters sort themselves out in the first part of the book, and while the story’s threads sort themselves towards resolutions, the various orthodox and straightforward aspects of the book are continually undercut and undermined by an organic eeriness, eating into the countryside and lives of the novel’s protagonists.

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