"Air and Angels" is yet another powerful Susan Hill novel. In simple terms it is about the wishes, dreams and dreads of a variety of somewhat upper class English folk and how their emotions clash against the constraining conventions of the well ordered society for which they are meant to be standard bearers. The action centres on Thomas Cavendish who is a Cambridge University tutor living with his sister. His life is quite simple and he wants for nothing, his passions being the birds that he keeps and the teaching he does. However his quiet life is shattered when he falls in love with a young teenager named Kitty who comes over from India in order to be educated in her home country.
This is only the main plot line however, and the book is crammed with a huge number of well defined characters, all somehow troubled and anxious of how things will work out for them. Susan Hill is very skilled in describing them and their thoughts in a moving way that is also quite old fashioned, befitting the period in which the book is set (which is never accurately defined).
All in all the book is very strong and the prose - as always in her books - is very elegant. You get the impression that Susan Hill could have drafted the Poll Tax Act and it would have been just about the most beautiful thing anyone had ever read.