The Overture to the Worst


(Image within above book is by Reggie Oliver)


“Some few scarlet berries, spared by the birds, gleamed bravely out of the stacks of holly,…”

A somewhat comic ghost story down a few notches of sophisticated texture from EB’s GREEN HOLLY, and including satire of the arts (including Momo’s, if not Nono’s, incomprehensible flute music!) and a similar social party scene (this one with  a Gothic ballroom and talk of or on roofs  et al, maybe helping Santa up there, and now and again talk of the occult) seeming quite reminiscent of Aickman’s LARGER THAN ONESELF (reviewed HERE), there, in Aickman, Mr Coner, and here Lady Cuckoo (surely that is not her real name!) who has suddenly  not enough space in her huge manorial  nest for all her Christmas visitors (about whose characters we learn much that is disposable, viz. about their marital aims etc.), — and she has to open, as an emergency, the Gothic wing, with its jackdaws’ nests, ‘reek of ancient damp’ etc. etc. A Wing that is larger than itself? A lot of “idiotic games” ensue, including Sardines and Hide and Seek…

“This, no doubt, was the overture to the Worst.”


My ongoing reviews of all Elizabeth Bowen’s stories:


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