Falling Angels

Tracy Chevalier

Published by Paw Prints 2008-06-05, 2008
ISBN 10: 1435297350 / ISBN 13: 9781435297357
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Time magazine crowned Girl With a Pearl Earring "a portrait of radiance...a jewel." In her New York Times bestselling follow-up, Tracy Chevalier once again paints a distant age with a rich and provocative palette of characters. Told through a variety of shifting perspectives—wives and husbands, friends and lovers, masters and their servants, and a gravedigger's son—Falling Angels follows the fortunes of two families in the emerging years of the twentieth century. Graced with the luminous imagery that distinguished Girl With a Pearl Earring, Falling Angels is another dazzling tour de force from this "master of voices" (The New York Times Book Review).

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Review: Set among the sweeping skirts and social upheavals of Edwardian London, Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels is a meditation on change, loss, and recovery. Her central characters are two young girls of the same age, whose family plots are situated side-by-side in a cemetery modeled on Highgate. Lavinia Waterhouse is respectably middle-class, devoted, like her conventional, doting mother, to the right way to do things, although suspiciously well- schooled in subjects like funerary sculpture and the English practices of mourning. Her friend Maude Coleman comes from a slightly more privileged and free-thinking background. In contrast with Lavinia's mother, Maude's mother Kitty Coleman is well-educated by the standards of the day, and it has made her restless and irritable. But neither her reading, nor her gardening, nor her affair with the somber, high-thinking governor of the cemetery is enough for Kitty. She comes alive only when she discovers the women's suffrage movement, and her devotion to the cause takes her away from Maude in every sense.

Although the point of view shifts between many characters (with even the Coleman's maid and cook getting their say, sometimes unnecessarily), Falling Angels is essentially the children's story, since it is their lives that are most open to change. The narrative spans exactly the years of Edward VII's reign, from the morning after his mother Queen Victoria's death in January 1901 to his own death in May 1910. Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) deftly uses the nation's dramatically different mourning for these two monarchs to signal the social transformations of the period. Readers at ease with English history will find Falling Angels an unusually subtle novel, with an emotional range that recalls the best of the Edwardian novelists, E.M. Forster, and his quintessential novel of Edwardian manners, Howard's End. --Regina Marler

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Title: Falling Angels
Publisher: Paw Prints 2008-06-05
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Library Binding
Book Condition: Used: Good

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