Paul's seventh novel tells a story of fear, suspicion and sudden death.
closely woven plot would make it a "thriller", were it not lifted far
above that genre by this writer's unusual and sombre power: its subtle
portrayal of char≠acter, and its disturbing suggestions of evil in a
a place, make it reminiscent of Henry James's eerie masterpiece, The Turn of
Greenwood, the sensible, cheer≠ful girl against whom all else in the
skilfully contrasted, takes the post of
Victoria M, a young woman who
the country at Ashbank House—or Cannel Farm, as the place was called
before, when Victoria was accused of murdering the daughter of Dr.
After the girl had spent some years in a mental institution, the doctor
her back to Cannel Farm and pro≠vided a number of people to look after
amuse her in that secluded place. Rachel, unfavourably impressed by the
glib charm, soon concludes that Victoria is not nearly as unbalanced as
made out to be.
help Rachel to follow the carefully obscured path back to that distant
day? Not Pat Anderson, whose irresponsibility reflects her silly
devotion to the
doctor. Not the young chauffeur Maurice, with his eye to the main
the doctor's two precocious illegitimate children. Henry Festing and
might help; but Henry, for some reason of his own, is afraid of Dr.
atmosphere charged like the air before a storm, A Cage for the Nightingale
to its dark climax.
Paul writes with an icicle, in a fine and distinguished way that is
quite her own, concerned with a misfit in life . . . the effect is
sombre, impressive, moving.” — The TLS (1934).
almost medieval sense of good and ill. One enters a different
world — compelling, fearful, mysterious. The characters live, the place
frightening reality … a kind of violent beauty.” – Elizabeth Jane
Hardback | ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-11-3
Extent: 272 | Publication Date: 21 September 2012
short but perceptive review on the Wormwoodiana blog here
in-depth review on The Nemonicon website beginning here
"that may take me days,
weeks, months or years to complete…"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
CAGE FOR THE NIGHTINGALE by Phyllis Paul
"THE fire was full of restless,
flames which had not yet established a hold. They did not light the
were too unstable. The rays they threw merely touched and let go, like
fingers. The room was large and lofty, there was a gaping hinterland to
fireside, in the black cavities of which a dumb play seemed to be in
with a theme full of alarms, smothered outcry and a scampering. At the
a solemn portal of mahogany was vaguely indicated; its panels sometimes
out a moony beam as if a face or a hand had been thrust in stealthily.
folds fell from the cornice before the three windows. They had a velvet
which did not respond to the fitful rays; it swallowed them up,
darkness with a sullen emphasis.
darkness above and on
either side of the
hearth was the most consistent, for the mantelpiece projected, ornate
heavy, throwing across the ceiling and beyond its wings a deep
which merely fluctuated at the edges as the flames danced; and of the
of the easy chairs which stood one in either recess formed by the depth
chimney-breast, nothing could be seen but that they were there."
Introduction by Glen Cavaliero
Glen Cavaliero, poet and literary critic, has
long been a champion of the little-known 'supernatural' novels of
(1903-1973) which have some affinity with the work of Charles Williams.
addition to an overview of her work in
his own The Supernatural and English
Fiction Dr Cavaliero has written several important
articles about the novels of Phyllis Paul, the most
recent of which featured in Wormwood 9 as Mysteries
of the Thirteenth Hour: The Enigmatic World of Phyllis Paul.
A CAGE FOR THE NIGHTINGALE
Final copy just sold (07 Dec 2018)
CAGE FOR THE
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