Monday, October 27, 2014

Reader's Diary #1079- Elizabeth Bowen: The Demon Lover

The best part about Elizabeth Bowen's "The Demon Lover," for me, was the setting. It manages to be unique yet still play to classic ghost story imagery and is so finely detailed. Largely taking place in an abandoned house on an abandoned street? Of course that's just perfect to conjure eerie feelings. But Bowen ramps it up a notch with minute attention to detail (there's a mark on the wallpaper where a doorknob had always bumped it) and yet another notch by placing it during World War II in London, where the reason behind the abandonment is a whole other kind of fear: bombing.

The plot, however, didn't quite live up the setting. Kathleen, a middle aged woman, has ventured back to the house to gather a few things when she discovers a letter from a former fiance on a dusty table-- a fiance she'd presumed dead after World War I. He's back to collect upon a promise made 25 years ago, long before she'd married another man and raised a family.

It's fine, I suppose, if somewhat predictable story. Maybe a nice touch about the past having a way to come back to bite us, but I admit, when the old soldier fiance shows up in a taxi, I couldn't help but picture David Johansen's portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooged, and well, it didn't exactly elicit shivers as much as giggles.

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