Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

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The Angel of the title is Angelica Deverell, the daughter of a grocer from the not terribly nice town of Norley, who decides to write novels to bring her life up to the level she wishes to become accustomed to. The books she writes are hideous in the opinion of pretty much every other character in the book but these unresearched fantasies of lords and ladies go down well with the general public. This story is about the rise, and eventual fall, of Angel.

The beginning of the book where Angel is dreaming, lying and writing was great – it grabbed me from the very beginning. The supporting cast, like Angel’s mother and Aunt Lottie, are fabulous creations, realistic foils to Angel’s fantasies. The problem for me was that once Angel became successful, even though you knew this couldn’t last, and started playing out her fantasies in the real world, it all became a lot less absorbing to read. The supporting characters later in the book are no match for those at the start, and it all became a bit too comic and silly for me.

I’ll be looking out for more of Taylor’s books, I enjoyed this one, but just felt it lost it’s way a bit as it went on.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Borrowed.

Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald

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I was actually looking for Offshore, Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize winning book, but came across this one in the second hand bookshop instead. I’m glad I did, I’ll definitely be looking out for more of her books.

This story is based at BBC Broadcasting House in the Second World War (a situation I think the author had first hand knowledge of). It’s quite odd in some ways, full of acronyms that aren’t always explained, and populated with characters who may or may not stay for the course of the book. I found it totally charming to read though. And very funny in places to boot.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 16th October 2007.

P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

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The middle of a (proposed) 26 book series isn’t the place to look for innovative fiction, or anything other than more of the same. So I wasn’t particularly disappointed to find Kinsey Millhone on much the same form as ever. Nothing fabulous but a reasonable mystery for the most part and pretty much what I expected.

The thing that seemed odd: The only distinguishing factor between these books is their titles – why not have someone actually *in peril* in this one? If there was, it went over my head.

Also the ending seemed a bit unplanned, rushed, as if the author suddenly realised 5 pages from the end that having given the most likely party a get out clause meant that someone else needed to be implicated.

I’ll probably go back for Q at some point anyway. (I know, not exactly a ringing endorsement!)


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
BookMooched.

Have the Men Had Enough? by Margaret Forster

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Absolutely fabulous book. Not an easy read because of the emotional attachment to the story. Good writing, great characters.

Narrated alternately by seventeen year old Hannah and her mother Jenny this book tells the story of the decline into senile dementia of “Grandma”. This is actually Hannah’s grandmother, and Jenny’s mother-in-law. The other major character is Bridget, Grandma’s daughter. Unmarried and a nurse, Bridget is totally devoted to her mother.

This is very much a book about the family dynamics between the women, Forster has made them all very convincing. Even when two characters are arguing totally different sides to an issue you can see why they are both right. (The men are believable too, but this isn’t really their story.)

It’s made clear early on that this isn’t a book that could ever really have a happy ending; Grandma isn’t going to get better, she isn’t going to get easier to cope with. The good thing is that, in Forster’s hands, it’s not a book full of interminable bleakness.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
BookMooched.