Angela Carter wrote this novel after she knew she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had a small son and a husband whom she would be leaving behind and in this context, Deefholts notes, "The echoing refrain of the text – "What a joy it is to dance and sing!"—seems particularly potent." Camilla was introduced by Carter as a daughter in the novel initially, but the character was removed from the final edition, for fear that people would not pay enough attention to the major symbol of the Grandfather Clock with the distraction of an additional character.
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