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The Skin Chairs (VMC)
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The Skin Chairs (VMC)

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  6 reviews
"'Could I see the chairs, please?'... 'Chairs, chairs. What does the child mean?... Oh, she means the chairs in your hall, the ones your husband had covered with skin. I'm afraid she is a morbid little thing.' She giggled and bounced about on her rickety chair."

Her father dies and the ten-year-old Frances, her mother and assorted siblings are taken under the wing of their
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 31st 1985 by Virago (first published 1962)
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Ben Winch
I'm halfway through The Skin Chairs and my trust in Barbara Comyns is near total. I'm not sure I can describe this book, which on the surface is anything but experimental, but I've never read anything like it. I mean, on one level, sure, there's plenty like it. It's the story of growing up in an English village in the early part of the twentieth century, and yes, on the literal level, the back-cover blurb is accurate: it's a 'quirky novel describing the adult world with a young girl's eye'. But ...more
J.
Such an onslaught of detail, such an incoming rush of sensory effects that it's difficult to know what to call this. A coming-of-age novel where the days stream by but the characters don't change-- a kaleidoscopic novel that keeps mostly to the same setting ... A character study, but one where nothing is revealed, in the unending flow of both triviality and entirety.

Comyns is fascinated by the perspective of adolescence, but in the most adult way possible, a perspective that doesn't shortchange
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Daisy
You read this on tenterhooks; it's a weird mixture of cozy and uncomfortable, with the emphasis on uneasiness. It's got unforgettable characters (Aunt Lawrence, Vanda and Jane, Mrs. Alexander with her gold shoes and other proclivities) who drive the would-be simple story of a young girl from a poor, eccentric family who loves to draw, is kind to animals, and knows her botany.

It surprised me that I was allowed more freedom than Ruby, who was grown up and wore her hair in a sad little bun.
Ann-Marie
Not that I've read a lot of Flannery O'Connor, but it occurred to me after finishing this book that Barbara Comyns might have something in common with her. (Kalen, care to comment?) I’ve read a few of Comyns’s books now (all thanks to Kalen), and I liked this one the best of all, perhaps because it was told from a child’s point of view and was a bit more lighthearted, even though there were frightening or sad parts. In all of her novels, her subject seems to be human suffering, and although they ...more
Paula
A little more grounded in reality than Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, this novel about genteel country folk, told from the point of view of a bewildered young girl who is forced to stay with "horsey relations" after her father dies, has a meandering feel that values eccentric details over plot. I liked it, and plan to read more Barbara Comyns. Yay for weird British authors.
Flora
3.5 stars really but I'm rounding up because it's Barbara Comyns and I love her. Much more 'straight' than her other novels but still tinged with strangeness and the weird obsessions of childhood. "Sisters by a River" and "Who was Changed and who was Dead" have yet to be beaten, however.
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500 Great Books B...: The Skin Chairs - Barbara Comyns - Ben Winch 1 4 Aug 12, 2014 07:50PM  
  • The Lost Traveller
  • Angel
  • Invitation to the Waltz
  • Miss Mole (A Virago modern classic)
  • Mr Skeffington
  • No Signposts in the Sea
  • The Constant Nymph
  • One Fine Day
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  • The Land of Spices
  • The Rising Tide
  • Great Granny Webster
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Barbara Comyns Carr was an English author and artist.
More about Barbara Comyns...
The Vet's Daughter Our Spoons Came from Woolworths Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead Sisters by a River The Juniper Tree

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