The Bird’s Nest tells the story of Elizabeth, Beth, Bess and Betsy, four women with something in common – they’re all the same person.
I love Shirley Jackson – the Haunting of Hill House is one of my favourite novels – but this multiple-personality drama isn’t her best work.
Perhaps the writing is intended to mirror the psychological state of the lead character, but this is a strangely disjointed novel that suffers from some jarring perspective shifts. It’s populated with thoroughly unlikeable characters and Elizabeth’s multiple personalities aren’t as sharply delineated as they need to be, making it all too easy to confuse which one’s which.
There is some fine writing here and the book is peppered with Jackson’s trademark dark wit. But the plodding plotting makes even this relatively short novel a bit of a hard slog.
Try Haunting instead. The Sundial and We Have Laways Lived In The Castle are also superior.
Next: A chamber piece.