Every once in a while (and usually from England) there is a small, shrivelling novel of considerable originality--My Mother's House, for example--which proceeds from pity to horror and from the uncertain to the unexpected. This one takes place during London's Blitz; a casualty is Oxley who emerges from dubious surgical triumphs with a new-old face and an alien skin. He is as much a stranger to himself as he is to the rest of the world, even to his mother who assures him that ""Everything will be the way you remember it."" He leaves home to go back to London, to the shell of a house where he is followed by a resilient entrepreneur, Freddy Straker. There, while Oxley watches, in a disembodied fashion, Freddy provides tea and toffee and toilet paper; he also arranges ""socials""--evenings of communal intimacies to which Oxley contributes the one young girl who has shown him a little friendly kindness. By the close, there is indeed ""nothing left to reclaim."" A fascinator, and your blood will run cold but not your sympathy.