It's been some time since I read this whispery and subtle novel of a dead child who may or may not be haunting her sad, confused, dominated mother, so my recollection of it is just as hazy and diffuse. Julia was Peter Straub's third novel and his first that incorporated any kind of horror or supernatural doings. Definitely paved the way for his later novels. The accidental death of little Kate Lofting, in the bright kitchen of her family's home, is shocking, bloody, prosaic, heartbreaking. Afterward, her mother Julia, an American, spends time in a mental hospital and then abandons her English husband Magnus (all-too-obvious name) as she flies to London and purchases an old home, eager to start a new life... but is the young girl she starts to see in the mirrors her beloved Kate, or some other manifestation...? Or the child in the nearby park, whom the other children shun, is she...?
Unsurprisingly, Julia has a dreamy and indistinct feel, sort of modern Gothic, complete with a callous and cruel husband, his evil plotting sister, and their ineffectual brother to whom Julia runs to for understanding. The specter of a lost, malevolent child will feature largely in Straub's Ghost Story in just a few short years. In 1977 the novel was adapted into the little-seen (at least, I've never seen it) movie Full Circle, aka The Haunting of Julia, with, if I imagine correctly, the perfectly-cast Mia Farrow as Julia. I don't think any of these paperback images quite accurately captures the slightly hallucinatory haunting-ness quality of the novel itself, but then, that'd hardly be the first time.