"The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen (1945, 5 pages)
Irish Short Story Week
Elizabeth Bowen (1899 to 1973-Dublin) was a well known writer of short stories and novels. Her best known work is the novel, The Heat of the Day (1949) which is considered one of the best literary treatments of London during the WWII years. She moved to London at age eight. She attended art school in London but decided that her primary talent was writing. Bowen was a strong believer in ghosts.
"The Demon Lover" is the best known of Bowen's short stories. (Not by far her best story but still a very well done work.) The central character of the novel, a 45 year old woman, comes in from the countryside in England during the WWII years to check on her long time residence. Like a lot of people she left London during the worst of the Blitz and lived in the countryside but would come back to check on her property. She is totally shocked when she sees a letter has been left for her on the dining table as there is no one who would bring a letter addressed to her inside her house. She is even more shocked when she reads the letter:
Dear Kathleen: You will not have forgotten that today is our anniversary, and the
day we said. The years have gone by at once slowly and fast. In view of the fact
that nothing has changed, I shall rely upon you to keep your promise. I was sorry
to see you leave London, but was satisfied that you would be back in time. You
may expect me, therefore, at the hour arranged.
The lead character is now a totally respectable married woman of the utmost probity. During WWI, some thirty years earlier when she was in her teens, she had a passionate affair with a soldier. He was a brutish kind of a man and her family did not at all approve of him. He was declared missing during the war and presumed dead. It has been so long the woman cannot even recall his face with any clearness. This new letter is from him, it seems. The story is short and beautifully told. I I do not wish to give away the exciting ending (I am still trying to figure out exactly what happened).
"The Demon Lover" can be read online HERE. For sure it is worth the less than ten minutes it will take you to read it.
(This is a slightly rewritten version of a post I did a few months ago)