|The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a small New World monkey courtesy of Leszek Leszczynski on Flicker|
Hopefully by now you will have read Part Two of Angel which introduces us to some very important characters in the story of both the furry kind and human kind, as well as the imaginary - I am speaking of the redoutable Mr Delbanco invented by Angel's long suffering publisher, Theo.
Angel is growing in confidence as her reputation as an author grows. With her newly acquired wealth, she moves to a new more salubrious abode in the burbs - The Birches at Alderhurst. She surrounds herself with exotic pets - a parrot, a marmoset and a great dog called Sultan. Her mother is ailing and eventually succumbs to an internal haemorrhage. Her departure from this mortal coil paves the way neatly for the entrance of Nora, Angel's companion for the next thirty years as well as Esme, Nora's reprehensible and profligate brother.
When forced to consider the character of Angel and describe what makes her so odious, I think it is her complete lack of a sense of humour. Thankfully Elizabeth Taylor abounds in humour and that is what makes reading Angel such a delight. Writing humour or comedy is no mean feat and I love to try and dissect Taylor's work to discover it's secrets. Little sentences or phrases provide much joy e.g.
"...industry made Norley an impossible place for industrialists to live in...." or
"Miss Nora Howe-Nevinson," Lord Norley said loudly. It was not an easy name to say and sometimes he made the most embarrassing mistakes.".
I love the dance of conversations - Taylor makes much of awkward silences and who is the first to fail or fall into the trap of speaking first and letting the other person "win".
|William Govett driving a De Dion Bouton on an unsealed road c 1905 from State Library of Queensland|
Taylor's prowess at humour is intensified by the tremendous pathos of Mrs Deverell's loneliness and decline and Angel's hopelessness at intimacy and happiness. One of my favourite descriptions of Angel is as follows:
How are you traveling on this journey? I mentioned in an earlier post that reviewers are the bane of Angel's life. Angel's publisher knows she writes tripe and has to perform editing cartwheels to save her from herself. And yet her writing is the source of his good fortune.
How do you choose what to read next ? Which reviewers do you find most useful? Friends, journalists, bloggers? What do you look for in a review? Do you read to escape into the exotic? Or do you look for realism?
Here are some links to reviews of Angel written by fellow Elizabeth Taylor afficionados..
Remember when you share your thoughts on the book please do so via a Mr. Linky on Laura's Elizabeth Taylor Centenary page.