The full manuscript of this novel was found among her papers in Tulsa, the library I'd been itching to get to from the moment I learned they were there. It is, though, not the best novel. I've read some of her work that didn't move me, but others are among the best books I've ever read. This one, though, is worse than unmoving. It is not fleshed out. It reads like a quick first draft. The first-person narration is distant, as if told from some far-off, removed location, long after the issues raised have been settled. While scenes are described in this way, we are never given that feeling of being there.
Maybe this impression comes from a bias. It is easy to believe that the pages put together to form this new "found" novel are not pages that Kavan ever intended to be published. It is easy to assume that these were not finished pages, the manuscript not a completed whole. The novel's introduction, by Jennifer Sturm (whose has commented here previously) , does an excellent job as serving as a Kavan primer and properly placing this novel among her others. What I want to hear is a little history, though. Had this manuscript ever passed before the eyes of any editors? Anyone at all? Peter Owen, her publisher, was also a good friend. Do we really think she would have had trouble getting anything of which she was proud published? My suspicion was that this book was one of those bottom-drawer manuscripts, ones we think we'll get back to, edit, and revise into the masterpiece we intended it to be.
The novel does redeem itself, though. Despite, the fact that Kavan relies here on a fever for the narrator's mind to loosen, for things to become surreal and ominous, the effect at times is in full force, the images precise and moving. The ending is saved from the downward spiral we see in much of Kavan's work, and realizations reached are realistic and believable. Some might say that a sort of tacked-on revelation happens here, but what I read was heart-felt.