I read this book about 26-May-2004. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1948. This note was last modified Sunday, 30-May-2004 12:17:02 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Dodie Smith is the same person who wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians, which I know only from the Disneyization. And the copyright suggests the author's real name was Dorothy Gladys Beesely.
It appears to be in the form of the journal of the adolescent daughter of a writer who had one literary success and then couldn't write any more. The daughter does want to be a writer herself. They're living in a castle in the UK somewhere, very poor, at the beginning. I like the writing and the main character's voice. It's an interesting semi-functional family; there's a lot of affection between all the people involved, it looks like. And I've been assured it isn't a nasty descent-into-madness type of story, which is one of the places you could go from this start (the niceness at the start increasing the impact of the nastiness later).
Well, the level of interest of the beginning doesn't really hold up. Too much of it really is based around adolescent angst and insanity. The characters are interesting and well-drawn, if horribly straight-jacketed by their culture. And unbelievably nice and emotionally open, really.
But it certainly doesn't come to a horror-style conclusion.