Sunday, August 30, 2009

Celia Fremlin

"Fremlin is here to stay as a major mistress of insight and suspense."
New York Times, April 3, 1960

"Celia Fremlin is certainly one of today's more gifted writers."
Los Angeles Times, May, 1963

I've just learned that English novelist Celia Fremlin passed away this summer, on June 16, 2009.

Fremlin, born in 1914, wrote two novels of manners before turning her pen to crime fiction and suspense. She won the Edgar for Best Novel for The Hours Before Dawn, first published in 1958. If you've never read it, find a copy as soon as possible. I strongly recommend it. It's superbly written, unsettling and perceptive.

Beyond that, I think those of you who want a look at women's lives in late 1950s -- as well as some insight into women's lives now, will find that without the least bit of preaching, Fremlin gives you something to think about. It's available from Chicago Academy Publishers.

Her eighteen other novels include Uncle Paul, The Jealous One (also available from Chicago Academy Publishers), The Spider-Orchid and Dangerous Thoughts. A bibliography is available here.

I've been collecting her books over the last ten years, and can tell you that the critical acclaim was well-deserved.

I'm indebted to Elizabeth Foxwell for sending me a link to Martin Edward's blog, where I learned of Fremlin's death, and I agree wholeheartedly with all he has to say there about the stunning lack of notice her passing has received.


Anonymous said...

Celia Fremlin will be missed. Her books are hard to find but each one is a little gem with stories neatly written, subtle and filled with wonderfully constructed thoughts and sentences. She made reading truly enjoyable.

Jan Burke said...

I agree. For those of us who love her work, it's important to introduce new readers to her.

Thanks for you comment!