"Be careful what you wish for. You might get it."
And Agnes Grey does make wishes which come true: a live porcelain
doll that talks, a horse of her own, a dream of a poet who loves her.
Some of her wishes have consequences immediate and obvious. Others
reverberate throughout her life, with unexpected effects when she
least expects it.
The first four chapters of The Pillow Friend are more like
related but distinct short stories, rather than arbitrary divisions
in a novel. Indeed, one chapter, "Making Magic," is a genuine short
story, supposedly written by Agnes, and another, "In the Woods," is
almost an object lesson in wishing and consequences. Only later does
a more complete sense of the overall novel emerge (along with more
conventional chapters), and author Lisa Tuttle skillfully draws on
earlier situations -- Aunt Marjorie, the dream-Alex, and most
importantly the Myles doll -- as effortlessly as if The Pillow
Friend had been a smooth, continuous creation all along.
In many respects, it resembles a fairy tale of a darker, sexual
nature. At the end, especially, the symbolism becomes heavy and
murky, and the line (if there ever was one) between Agnes' reality
and fantasy even less clear. The Pillow Friend is a quick,
often disturbing novel, and quite obviously not to everyone's taste.
This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris