Christianna Brand’s fiction features brisk prose, wry twists, plots that lure the reader into a false sense of having figured every contingency, and ironic turns that not only spice the narrative but supply its lifeblood. No one has read a Brand story who has failed to read the last sentence.
Christianna Brand was born Mary Christianna Milne in Malaya in 1907. She spent her childhood in India. At 17 she learned her father had lost all his money. Without a shred of training or experience she found herself faced with earning a living. She held a string of jobs, but lent little distinction to any of them: nursery governess, packer of beaded dresses for export, hostess in a plush nightclub, professional ballroom dancer, model in Bond Street dress shops, and, most hopeless of all,” secretary.
In 1939, lacking any training in literature or journalism, Mary Milne decided to try writing fiction. Her first novel, Death in High Heels, was rejected by 15 publishers before The Bodley Head took it in 1941, published under the pen name, Christianna Brand.