The Vet's Daughter cover
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Publication date:
April 30, 2003
NYRB Classics

The Vet’s Daughter combines shocking realism with a visionary edge. The vet lives with his bedridden wife and shy daughter Alice in a sinister London suburb. He works constantly, captive to a strange private fury, and treats his family with brutality and contempt. After his wife’s death, the vet takes up with a crass, needling woman who tries to refashion Alice in her own image. And yet as Alice retreats ever deeper into a dream world, she discovers an extraordinary secret power of her own.

Harrowing and haunting, like an unexpected cross between Flannery O’Connor and Stephen King, The Vet’s Daughter is a story of outraged innocence that culminates in a scene of appalling triumph.


Told in the first person by a young girl, [The Vet’s Daughter] has the vividness and innocence [and] the revelatory intensity of the narrations of Pip or young David Copperfield. It projects its fantastic story with a tangible realness and manages to make public and inevitable a realm of private sensation close to nightmare… . A wonderful and original novel.
— Alan Hollinghurst

The strange offbeat talent of Miss Comyns and that innocent eye which observes with childlike simplicity the most fantastic or the most ominous occurrence, these have never, I think, been more impressively exercised than in The Vet’s Daughter.
— Graham Greene