Abandoned! The Man Who Loved Children
Published in 1940, this tale of a deeply dysfunctional family has the ring of autobiography about it. Henny and Sam are the warring parents, locked in a miserable marriage, whose relationship is played out through the allegiances of their brood of children, including gifted, clumsy, ugly duckling Louisa.
I skipped the introduction this time around, slightly daunted by the smallness of the print and the number of pages I was signing up for. And as I read the first hundred or so pages, I was struck by the brilliance and clarity of the writing, the portrait of the intimate cruelty inside an 'ordinary' family. It's great, powerful, difficult stuff.
But when I got to the part (spoiler) where Louie drowns the cat in the bath, I thought, how badly do I really want to spend time with these unhappy people? I get it, I thought, I remember this; they're all horrible, Louie has to escape to survive, Sam is a genial monster, Henny is a troubled shrew.
There are so many other books I'm dying to read. Do I really need to slog through this one again? And I thought, no.