Irish Fiction Friday: Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover”

Happy Friday the 13th! Dublin2019 brings you another installment of our delightful Irish Fiction Friday.

This week we are featuring the very talented Elizabeth Bowen who will give you a little something to think about on this very freaky Friday. It is our pleasure to introduce you to Ms. Bowen via her short story “The Demon Lover.” Below is a short except along with a link to the full document. We hope you enjoy it!

And remember, no walking under ladders or crossing a black cat’s path!

Elizabeth BowenFrom Elizabeth Bowen:

Born June 7, 1899 in Dublin, Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973) grew up in England. Among her novels are The House in Paris (1935), The Death of the Heart (1938) and The Heat of the Day (1949). Her short-story collections include The Demon Lover (1945). Bowen’s work frequently depicts uneasy and unfulfilled relationships among the upper middle class. Her essay collections include Collected Impressions (1950).


“The Demon Lover”

by Elizabeth Bowen

Elizabeth Bowen-Demon Lover CoverToward the end of her day in London Mrs. Drover went round to her shut-up house to look for several things she wanted to take away. Some belonged to herself, some to her family, who were by now used to their country life. It was late August; it had been a steamy, showery day: At the moment the trees down the pavement glittered in an escape of humid yellow afternoon sun. Against the next batch of clouds, already piling up ink-dark, broken chimneys and parapets stood out. In her once familiar street, as in any unused channel, an unfamiliar queerness had silted up; a cat wove itself in and out of railings, but no human eye watched Mrs. Dover’s return. Shifting some parcels under her arm, she slowly forced round her latchkey in an unwilling lock, then gave the door, which had warped, a push with her knee. Dead air came out to meet her as she went in.

The staircase window having been boarded up, no light came down into the hall. But one door, she could just see, stood ajar, so she went quickly through into the room and unshuttered the big window in there. Now the prosaic woman, looking about her, was more perplexed than she knew by everything that she saw, by traces of her long former habit of life—the yellow smoke stain up the white marble mantelpiece, the ring left by a vase on the top of the escritoire; 2 the bruise in the wallpaper where, on the door being thrown open widely, the china handle had always hit the wall. The piano, having gone away to be stored, had left what looked like claw marks on its part of the parquet. 3 Though not much dust had seeped in, each object wore a film of another kind; and, the only ventilation being the chimney, the whole drawing room smelled of the cold hearth. Mrs. Drover put down her parcels on the escritoire and left the room to proceed upstairs; the things she wanted were in a bedroom chest.

She had been anxious to see how the house was—the part-time caretaker she shared with some neighbors was away this week on his holiday, known to be not yet back. At the best of times he did not look in often, and she was never sure that she trusted him. There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing, on which she was anxious to keep an eye. Not that one could do anything—

A shaft of refracted daylight now lay across the hall. She stopped dead and stared at the hall table—on this lay a letter addressed to her.

To read the rest of “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen, click here to access the free online PDF version.