This is one of Barbara Comyn’s best novels, set in a village somewhat like Bidford on Avon.

Vulpes Libris

Bidford bridge Philip Halling [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons Firstly, mea maxima culpa – many apologies that this post didn’t appear in its rightful place a couple of weeks ago; I got the wrong day. Oops. BUT better late than never – and that’s also true of Barbara Comyns’ Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, if you somehow haven’t read it in the 61 years since it was published in 1954. I would argue that it’s the best of Comyns’ surreal and glorious oeuvre.

For starters, how’s this for an opening line? ‘The ducks swam through the drawing-room windows.’ That introduction is very characteristic of Comyns’ combination of the domestic and the bizarre. Her novels are firmly set in families and villages, but in a manner that is somehow heightened and made absurd – and, yet, always told in the most matter-of-fact manner. Absolutely nothing can discompose the…

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