Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
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Fiction. This is the story of the Willoweed family and the English village in which they live. It begins mid-flood, ducks swimming in the drawing-room windows, "quacking their approval" as they sail around the room. "What about my rose beds?" demands Grandmother Willoweed. Her son shouts down her ear-trumpet that the garden is submerged, dead animals everywhere, she will be lucky to get a bunch. Then the miller drowns himself...then the butcher slits his throat...and a series of gruesome deaths plagues the villagers. The newspaper asks, "Who will be smitten by this fatal madness next?" Through it all, Comyns' unique voice weaves a text as wonderful as it is horrible, as beautiful as it is cruel. Originally published in England in 1954, this "overlooked small masterpiece" is a twisted, tragicomic gem.
bakehouse calling, “What was that? What has happened?” and his wife who had been drinking suddenly appeared and said, “What’s th’matter?” and stood there swaying. Eunice left without ordering the seed cake, she felt strangely sick and longed to lie down in the cool and quiet of her bedroom. But, when she reached the Willoweed house, all was confusion. Grandmother Willoweed had heard the news and wanted Emma to row her down the river to see the miller’s body dragged out of the water. She shouted
whatever possessed him to do a thing like that?” “It must be the sultry weather,” said the man who had helped him to the White Lion, “it’s making us all balmy, that’s what it’s doing. I had terrible dreams myself last night,” and the man’s lips quivered with the memory of the horror of the night, “and the pains in my stomach have been cruel!” Ebin looked at him with dismay. Surely he wasn’t going mad too. Then he heard Doctor Hatt’s voice and felt safe. The doctor entered the billiard room,
You are shocked, you old hypocrite.” The lawyer laughed nervously. His laugh was a sort of bleat out of one side of his mouth, and he tucked his face into his neck in the most extraordinary one-sided manner when he gave it—which was about once in every four minutes if he was with a difficult client. After much shouting and wailing on Grandmother Willoweed’s part and bleating from Lawyer Williams it was arranged that a new will should be drawn up leaving Ebin, Emma and Hattie an equal interest
had to be dragged onto the lawns to dry and the mud washed off the floors and furniture; the house had not had such a cleaning for years. Most of the heavy work fell on Emma and the two maids. Grandmother Willoweed went from one worker to another brandishing a wicker carpet-beater, and if anyone was not working to her satisfaction they received a whack with it. The two children were put on to furniture polishing, which they did in a half-hearted fashion. Dennis knelt on a book, which he read when
there would be a great tornado, in which their father would become almost crushed to a pulp, and the lessons would start again with new vigour, until Grandmother Willoweed lost interest in them and they would gradually peter out again. Dennis often wondered why his father, who seemed to set such store by bravery, was always so cowed by his mother. He thought perhaps it was chivalry. The sun was very warm and there was the sound of music gradually coming nearer. A boat passed with a gramophone