A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
It is Christmas Day, 1885, and the Edgeworths are at each other's throats again. Duncan holds his wife and children captive to his authoritarian whims; every day brings fresh struggles for power. Before breakfast is over, there will be presents in the fire. When illness strikes the family, volatile tensions are unleashed that result in scandal, adultery and murder, while a crowd of gossiping neighbours watches gleefully on. A brutally funny demolition of patriarchal authority, A House and Its Head confirms Ivy Compton-Burnett's status as one of the unique stylists of twentieth-century English fiction, and its greatest chronicler of the violent dysfunction of families.