When the Monster Dies


173 pages
ISBN 0-394-22132-X
DDC 823'.914




Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.


Mary Rose, an artist, has a secret that she must preserve if she is to
maintain her status as a squatter in her own home. If the authorities
discover the archaeological remains of a Roman bath buried in her back
garden, the resurrection of the past will jeopardize her fragile

Mary Rose and her kaleidoscopic circle of friends all lead similar
lives-on-the-edge, but on the edge of what? The London that is their
home (or at least their perching place) is not really their own. Neither
are their abandoned nationalities, whether Canadian, West Indian, or
Australian. They have lost touch with their homelands, without ever
having been accepted as British in their chosen domicile. The author’s
sardonic, humorous picture of the tail end of empire, “when the
monster dies,” is a prediction. “Survivors will live on. . . . Those
who succeed will continue succeeding. Some demon will rise from the
ashes.” Dreams of empire have always ended in dissolution—and after?
A readable first novel with a powerful evocation of place and


Pullinger, Kate., “When the Monster Dies,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12059.