Rachel Ingall’s Mrs. Caliban is an odd novella of a bored housewife who suddenly finds someone who needs her: an amphibian man who has recently escaped from captivity. Dorothy’s husband has been drifting away from her for years. Frank stays late at the office and doesn’t say much when he is home. They’re planning separate vacations again this year. And yet, Dorothy hangs on to her life as it is, until Larry shows up at her backdoor.
Dorothy remains admirably calm when a giant amphibian man appears at her house and starts eating her prized vegetables. When she hears his story of abuse at the hands of guards and scientists, Dorothy feels sorry for the poor, murderous creature. Their affair isn’t inevitable (because he’s a gigantic amphibian man), but it does make sense in that they are two misunderstood beings with no one to love them.
Most of this short books covers Dorothy’s efforts to help get Larry back to his home in the Gulf of Mexico, while her domestic life unravels after a few deaths and some further revelations about Frank. Even though this book was originally published in the early 1980s, it doesn’t feel very dated. There are no cell phones, of course, but apart from Larry, this story could be set any time in the last fifty or so years. It’s so brief, however, I don’t think I really understood what the story was trying to communicate to me. Dorothy is the only character we get to know in this novella. Everyone else is something that just happens to her. Still, I was entertained by this weird little tale.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 13 September 2016.