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Living Alone

Stella Benson

Book Overview: 

Set in London during the First World War, Living Alone tells of the meeting of a recluse and a witch, then rambles through magic, morality and aerial dogfights on broomsticks. With its curious blend of fantasy and practical detail of a country in war-time, it's a charmingly weird novel that I hope will entertain.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . is no charge for residence?"

"How d'you mean—pay?" asked the witch. "Pay whom? And what with? Look here, if you will come and live here you shall have a little Wednesday every week on the stairs, under license from me. Harold the Broomstick is apt to shirk cleaning the stairs, but as it happens, he is keeping company with an O-Cedar Mop in Kentish Town, and I've no doubt she would come over and do the stairs thoroughly every Tuesday night. Besides, we have overalls in stock at only two and eleven three——"

"Oh, I like your merry mood," said Miss Ford, laughing heartily. "You must remember to talk like that when you come to my Wednesdays. Most of my friends are utter Socialists, and believe in bridging as far as possible the gulf between one class and another, so you needn't feel shy or awkward."

The splashing of the ferry-boat was once more heard, and then the shop quaked a little a. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Originally published in 1919, Stella Benson's Living Alone is a charming fantasy set in World War 1 London and dealing with the effects on several members of a Committee on War Savings of an unexpected encounter with a witch, who is never named but turns all of their lives upside down, for a litt...more

Perhaps it loses a little steam toward the end, but what a magical little book. Written and set during the tail end of the first world war, Living Alone presents us with a nameless witch, named inanimate objects (and the Dog David Blessing), a boarding-house founded on solitude and a pathetically...more

"This is not a real book. It does not deal with real people, nor should it be read by real people. But there are in the world so many real books already written for the benefit of real people, and there are still so many to be written, that I cannot believe that a little alien book such as this,...more

From the first paragraph I knew this was my kind of book. I wish I could write like Stella Benson, though without the casual anti-Semitism. There is some extraordinary writing in this book -- it skates on the edge of tweeness without falling unforgivably over, I think, but many might and probably...more

It's 1915 and a witch on the run from the police stumbles in to a committee meeting and, by her mere presence, changes the life of everyone there. The story unfolds with dream-logic, full of humour, delightful characters (dragons, invisible mayors, fairy gardeners and a wizard), and unforgettable...more

This is such a strange book. Yes, there is a plot and there are characters, but it's all about the mood, so it felt a bit like a collection of picturesque scenes. It's very visual - everything is described as looking like something else - and I think it would be an excellent graphic novel or illu...more

A woman bursts in upon a charitable committee, having just stolen a bun and needing to hide from the police. The charitable committee immediately start doing what charitable committees of the time were supposed to do: find reasons not to help her. But the woman doesn’t need or want help. She’s a...more

This book is so hard to rate, because the brilliant parts are so brilliant that they outshine the fact that the author seems to have set out to write a novel apparently without ever having read one, like it completely fails to do what you expect it to, it doesn't fit together, the tone is constan...more

A bit too twee for me, but she still writes brilliantly and has a great sense of humour

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