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Frank's Book Log

Literature is a relative term.

The Baby Farmer

2017 | Short Story
A cover of The Baby Farmer by Philip Fracassi (2017)
C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
on Apr 21, 2022

The local vicar strikes up a relationship with a woman seeking to build an orphanage on church lands. But the woman harbors a secret interest in Amelia Dyer, a notorious Victorian-era serial killer who preyed on infants in her care.

The story cuts between present day and fictional diary entries written by Dyer before her execution. This proves challenging because Dyer’s 19th century English style sees “a” double as “and,” consider:

Mama had typhus from the lice most likely, she was a God fearing woman a went to church twice a week a prayed every day three times, once in the morning on her knees all of us on our knees, once at supper at the table a once at bedtime, me a my sisters in white nighties like kneeling angels in our dark cold room beside our bug-ridden bed.

Compounding matters, sometimes she uses “and”:

The smell of it is so bad you can taste it and whats worse is I been put in a stone cell with six other women all criminals one a murderer one believe it or not a killer of children but not part of my belief just a plain out demon…

Reading the story, I didn’t know Amelia Dyer was a real woman. Given that context, I can appreciate the intellectual exercise, and I loved Fracassi’s “what if” ending. But the struggle to decipher Dyer’s writing diminished the reading experience.

Reading History

    Thu Apr 21, 2022 via Kindle (Behold the Void, Lovecraft eZine Press, 2018)