The View from Eustace's Room
For a sickly child, alone for most of the day and night in their room with nothing to do, the imagination becomes their best friend. Although Eustace's imaginary friends use him as a goalpost when they play football. They use his clothes as the other post.
It's that sort of idea that when you read it you would start you to wonder exactly how insane this book is going to be, but you find yourself far more captivated by the extremely exquisite illustrations. Each page is lovingly drawn by what is obviously a talented hand. The expressions of joy and distaste on the characters faces are so involved that you can't help but feel with them. You're very swiftly transported into Eustace's world in 1930s London, reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies with a no-holds-barred expose of the time, seen through the naive eight-year-old eyes of the lead character.
From our role as "imaginary strangers" (the imaginary friends are no longer allowed in the house) we see Eustace's life change from bleak solitude to debauched partying. Cocktail hours, poker games, and prostitutes in the wardrobe. All courtesy of Uncle Lucy, on the run from the law and hiding out in his nephew's bedroom, we follow along as Eustace's life gets turned into a nightmare that he can't escape from.
This truly is a work that pulls you in, serves you a martini, and then leaves you wondering what just happened and where have your mental clothes have got to. But more than that, after you've finished reading it, it stays in your head. You can't get the little scenes out. You wake up in the morning hearing Eustace mumble the phrase, "I was always told to stand up when a lady enters the room, no-one told me not to do it naked."