The Case of Anna Kavan: A Biography

D. A. Callard, Author, David Callard, Author
D. A. Callard, Author, David Callard, Author Peter Owen Publishers $39.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0867-0
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1995
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Originally published in Great Britain in 1929, Kavan's first novel tells the starkly powerful story of two isolated and repressed sisters who desperately want their independence. In detailing their struggle, Kavan (Ice) turns a harsh and unflattering mirror toward both the stultifying English society of the 1920s and the bleak encroachment of town life upon an idyllic countryside. Olive Deane, approaching 30, lives with her younger sister, Beryl, in a once stately home now surrounded by the cheerless village of Hannington. Their domineering mother delegates the housekeeping to her sullen daughters, while their father, retired from his medical practice after a debilitating illness, rules the family with a brooding malevolence. When the adored and self-absorbed older son, Ronald, returns to this oppressive atmosphere, he deliberately sparks a malicious scheme that plays havoc with his sisters' fragile psyches. Beryl decides that she must be free and leaves home abruptly, only to slide into subservience to an employer; meanwhile, Olive's romantic desires are thwarted in a particularly cruel fashion. With a piercing eye and a controlled voice, Kavan encapsulates rage, hostility and guilt in a family on the edge of sanity. (Nov.)
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