Okay so I need to

The Juniper Tree - Barbara Comyns

The Juniper Tree” is a Brothers Grimm story that is at once both unremembered and remembered.  Many people think they don’t know, but when you tell them the plot, they go, “oh yeah”.  It is also a rather bloody piece of work.  (Not as bloody as their story about playing pig slaughter).  Barbara Comyns reinvents the tale from an almost feminist perspective.  She might not be as rich in language as Angela Carter, but despite its short length the book is far deeper than it first appears.


                On one level, it is the story of Bella who is mother to an out of wedlock child at a time when that mattered more than it does now, and said child is mixed race.  Bella has also been scarred in an automobile accident, caused by her boyfriend who comes across as a douche on so many levels.  Bella has moved and finally found a job.  She makes new friends- Gertrude and Bernard who are better off and take it upon themselves to improve Bella and her life.


                Things get a bit complicated when Gertrude becomes pregnant, finally after years of trying.


                On one hand, the book is about a woman’s place, or to be more exact what a woman’s place should be according to the men around her.  This isn’t just true of Bella, but also have her mother and Gertrude as well.  It appears to be somewhat less true of two women friends that Bella has, but it should be noted that these women are not married.


                On the other hand, the story is a Grimms’s’ tale transplanted to an English countryside that reminds one a bit of Christie.  It is very English with an important shift at the end.


                Yet again, the book also reminds me of The Yellow Wallpaper or any of those books where women are lock in the attic.