1950s Short Story

The Victorian Chaise-Longue – Marghanita Laski

  Persephone No. 6





Claire from Paperback Reader and Verity from The B Files are hosting Persephone Reading Week. I have not read a Persephone book before and so decided to take this opportunity to try one. I admit to searching out the shortest one I could find (The Victorian Chaise-Longue is just 99 pages long), but I think it was a very good choice, as I really enjoyed it and will go on to read many more in the future.

The Victorian Chaise-Longue tells the story of Melanie, a young woman suffering from TB in the 1950s. She recovers enough to be allowed out of her sick bed for the first time and decides to sleep on a Victorian chaise-longue. When she wakes up, she discovers that she has been transported back in time and is now living inside the body of a Victorian woman, who is also ill.

This book is suppossed to be dark and spooky. Nymeth described it as being a

chilling, atmospheric and suffocating novella.

but I’m afraid this book didn’t scare me at all. I think the main reason for this, is that this isn’t very likely to happen. Blindness had a real impact on me, as I can foresee it’s shocking events occurring one day, but I’m afraid I’m not a big believer in time-travel.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I actually found it funny as opposed to scary. The rantings of Melanie trying to persuade the people in her Victorian world that she was from the future just made me smile.

‘You think I am Milly Baines gone mad,’ she said, ‘but I am not. I am another woman. I don’t know where Milly Baines is, perhaps she is in my time and we have got changed somehow, or perhaps I am just dreaming and I cannot wake up. But I do not belong here, I tell you, all my life is in the future, my child, the man I love.

This is a lovely little book, and whether it scares you or makes you laugh, I’m sure you will enjoy it!


Am I alone in finding this book funny?

Have you ever found a scary book amusing?



30 replies on “The Victorian Chaise-Longue – Marghanita Laski”

Oh I have one of Laski’s books on my Persephone pile for once I start my Persephone read-a-thon later in the week. It’s “Little Boy Lost” which I ahve seen quite a few people reading on the tube bizarrely!

I found it funny in parts, Jackie, so you are not alone! I do find myself responding to the more spine-tingling sensation of something being possible and realistic and therefore more scary.

Laski has two other books published by Persephone and one on its way. Little Boy Lost is supposed to be quite the heartrending read.

Thanks so much for taking part! I know how long your TBR list is and I am so glad that you enjoyed this and want to read more Persephones -hopefully our prize draws and competitions will give you more of a chance to do that!

I’m pleased to hear that I am not alone in finding it funny.

Thank you for organising this week – it is a great idea. I hope I win one of your books – it would be great to have another Persephone book to read.

I love Persephone books but didn’t enjoy The Victorian Chaise-Longue. I can’t remember why now though because it’s a while back, I think I abandoned it. Like Simon, Little Boy Lost is on my tbr.
I’ve read 3 over recent months – Miss Pettigrew, The Children who Lived in the Barn and Miss Buncle’s Book and can recommend those, Jackie. I hope you continue to enjoy them.

Perhaps you abandoned it because it wasn’t very scary?

Thank you for the recommendations – I’ll keep an eye out for them. I will try more and hope I enjoy them all.

This sounds like a fun little read! I haven’t read any Persephone books either, but this challenge seems to be unearthing a plethora of books that I’d never have come across otherwise… and I’m not even participating!!!

I’m discovering a whole section of literature I’ve never looked at before too. This really is a good week. I hope you enjoy them if you decide to give one a try.

I see what you’re saying about finding things scariest if there’s the possibility they might happen! That’s why I find “The Shining” to be one of the scariest movies,because I could absolutely see (parts of) it happening.
Even if this one didn’t spook you, it still sounds like a good one! I’m going to flag it as a potential Persephone to read!

Are Persephone books in the US? (or is this a stupid question?) They look familiar and I don’t know if it’s from any visit to the bookstore or from when I studied in London.

I have no idea! I would guess not, but you can buy them from the book depository (see the link in my sidebar) they have free world-wide shipping.

I love that we both enjoyed it for so completely different reasons! I don’t believe in time-travel either, of course, but what unsettled me is that I could really feel Melanie/Milly’s entrapment. Laski really dragged me into the skin of a Victorian woman, and that takes a lot of skill.

I loved being taken into the world of a Victorian woman too. I didn’t find her entrapment scary though. Interesting and riveting, but not scary. It is great how everyone gets different things from reading the same book.

I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve only read Laski’s The village, but I have Little boy lost and suppose I should get hold of this one too as everyone has been reading it this week! Thanks for joining in!

I wonder how many people are only reading it because it is so short!!
It is good though. Thank you for bringing these wonderful books to my attention.

I’ve not read any of these books, but I could use a 99 pager! I’m in the middle of a very long hard book and a very long audio, and I can feel myself slipping into the void! I’m OK with time travel, more as a escape than anything. How many times did I watch that Christopher Reeve movie “Somewhere in Time”???? 50? I’ve always loved the idea. But to scare me, you are right. You’ve got to shove my nose in some brutal, semi-realistic stuff to make me squirm.

I have never seen Somewhere in Time. I’ll keep an eye out for it!

I know what you mean about long books. I like to keep a few short ones in reserve – that is one reason I haven’t got round to reading An Uncommon Reader yet – I need to find a chunkster to partner it with!

I think older books often seem funny when they were supposed to scare. Even more so with films. I watched Stephen King´s Carrie with a class some years ago, and some of the scenes were just hilarious (not quite what Mr King intented, I suspect).

It is a great insight into what used to scare people though. I think I am finding books about flu/pandemics scary at the moment because of the current situation. I’m sure in the future it won’t frighten anyone.

I love, love, love time travel so will look into this one. Jack Finney’s Time and Again is one of my all time favorite books. Wish I could laugh at scary books or movies. I just get scared and mostly stay away. :<)

Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time.

I used to avaoid scary books (I still avoid scary films) but I think there are only certain things that frighten me. Time travel isn’t one of them. I haven’t heard of Time and Again – I’ll have to have a look into that one – thanks for the recommendation!

I can see why it could come across as funny. I’ve felt that for other horror books before. With me at least, horror stories only work if I allow it to, if I start finding even one part funny or unbelievable the whole story collapses.
This book doesn’t stand up too well to modern scrutiny, just as the episodes of Doctor Who from the 60s now look cardboard and fake.

Yes – I’m can’t imagine anyone being scared by a 1960s Dr Who. It is strange how some things become less scary over time.

How interesting that you have such different reactions from Nymeth! I’m very curious about Laski. She seems like a great writer. I’m much more drawn to Little Boy Lost, but the endpaper to this one is so beautiful ha ha.

It is a really good book to start with – you can try Persephones out and only have to read 100 pages, all of which are excellent.

What an interesting review. I can’t say that I found the book either funny or scary – I thought it was dark though and really enjoyed it. Now i will have to read Little Boy Lost as so many people seem to recommend it. I have linked to your review on my blog.
Thanks for sharing and happy Monday!

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