THROUGH THE DOLLS' HOUSE DOOR by Jane Gardam

THROUGH THE DOLLS' HOUSE DOOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With a fresh eye, a gifted British author (Bilgewater; The Hollow Land) explores the familiar territory of dolls, children, and imagination. The children, introduced as two little girls and their brothers, are casually fond of the dolls, but their interests are centered offstage; ignored, carelessly left in uncomfortable positions for years at a time, the dolls' lives move more slowly, with great intervals between minor events that are major to them--such as the removing of the head/lid from the cat-shaped sugar bowl which prevents his speaking till it is replaced. Still, the sharply defined dolls contrive their own society and while away the time telling stories: the Dutch doll was carved by the boy who stopped the leak in the dike, later becoming a master workman at Canterbury Cathedral; one of the soldiers (long trapped in a plastic bag in the dolls' house chimney) recounts brief, wry, but poignant versions of the Iliad and Odyssey; the cat produces an Egyptian vignette involving the Holy Family. Listeners include the incurably doleful Cry and mysterious Sigger, invisible and forgotten so long that she may expire. But a chance encounter prompts a family reunion that leads to the dolls' house's rediscovery; Sigger is saved (for now); the house is perceived as valuable; the new generation of children may play with the dolls again. Not easy; not for the same age as likely doll-players; but beautifully crafted. Like the dolls, its best fate will be to survive for the occasional child with the wit to discover its charm.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1987
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Greenwillow