"It may be read with a great deal of simple enjoyment and then it sticks like a splinter in the mind."--Angela Carter
"It seems to me a perfect, utterly original novel, and no one but a poet could have written it...The book is totally idiosyncratic and yet there isn't a line you couldn't identify yourself with."--Harry Mathews
Miss M., the narrator of these fictional memoirs, is a diminutive young woman (though just how diminutive, the author never says) with a "passion for shells, fossils, flints, butterflies, and stuffed animals." Miss M. tells of her early life as a dreamy orphan and, in particular, of her tempestuous twentieth year--in which she falls in love with a beautiful and ambitious full-sized woman and is courted by a male dwarf. Concluding that she must choose either to simply tolerate her difference or grow callous to it, Miss M. resolves to become independent by offering herself up as a spectacle in a circus.
"One of the strangest and most enchanting works of fiction ever written."--Alison Lurie, from her foreword
"De la Mare's masterpiece...It acts upon the reader like a ghostly visitation, at once unsettling and revelatory."--Washington Post
"Here is a great book."--New York Times Book Review
"Sentences, pages, whole chapters cause us to catch our breath."--Atlantic Monthly
"After a long period of neglect de la Mare may be beginning to be seen as the remarkable writer that he is."--John Bayley, New York Review of Books
Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) wrote numerous novels, short stories, essays, and poems. He was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Memoirs of a Midget. Other major works include the children's novel, The Three Royal Monkeys, Henry Brocken, and The Return. His book Desert Islands is also available from Paul Dry Books.
Alison Lurie is the author of many highly praised novels as well as two collections of essays on children's literature, Don't Tell the Grown-Ups and Boys and Girls Forever. She has taught children's literature and folklore at Cornell University for many years.