Falling Angels Audio CD – Audiobook, 5 Sep 2001
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In Falling Angels, Tracy Chevalier has combined a moving elegy to the lost innocence of the 21st century's grandmothers and great-grandmothers with a reminder of the strength and modernity of their aspirations and achievements. Maude and Livy are aged six in 1901, when Queen Victoria has just died and the whole country is in mourning. In 1910 they are almost young women who have experienced their own personal losses and belong to a generation who are no longer prepared to wear black for months to mark the death of Edward VII. Their families, the Colemans and the Waterhouses ("no relation to the painter"), meet in a graveyard beside their family graves. One has a large marble angel erected above it, the other an urn (an allusion more to the morbidity of a Victorian columbarium than the eternity of Keats' pre-Victorian "unravish'd bride of quietness"). Their choices of a monument to death seem to reflect their differing attitudes to life, but Chevalier makes clear that these two families are forever linked in their fates and aspirations.
The story moves swiftly, switching to multiple narratives: young but quickly maturing Maude and Livy; the adult Colemans and Waterhouses; their servants; and Simon the gravedigger boy. Chevalier has chosen carefully who speaks when, and who, more importantly, keeps silent. Livy's little sister Ivy May is one of the most beguiling figures of the work, but is given only two sentences of her own (and those two bring a lump to the throat). Mrs Coleman's experiences with the campaign for women's suffrage are marginalised through silence; Maude and Livy tell instead of their reaction to the women's antics. And while Falling Angels may be a story of women, despite, or perhaps because of their exclusion from contemporary politics, Simon's observations are the most honest and revealing.
Chevalier herself writes after the story's end that "the Acknowledgements is the only section of a novel that reveals an author's "normal" voice. Every character uses their "normal" voice in this novel, and Chevalier's own voice excels in ensuring that each one is unique (for example, everything is "delicious" for Livy), so that, like Mr Coleman mourning his daughter growing up, you will "miss her when she goes". --Olivia Dickinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"In her New York Times best-selling follow-up, Chevalier once again paints a distant age with a rich and provocative palette of characters. 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" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm glad I took the risk. On page four, I realised I was utterly hooked.
Falling Angels follows the lives of two very different best friends from five years old through to their teens. Lavinia is spoilt, beautiful yet insecure about her families' (slight) lack of wealth. Maude is plain but intelligent and compassionate, well off but unaware of it.
Each chapter is taken from different characters points of view - the girls, their parents and families, cooks and maids. This is where Chevalier shines - the plot is never confused or lost amongst all these different voices. These shifting view points only add to the compelling story.
The book starts with the death of Queen Victoria and the new ruling of King Edward. Chevalier weaves slow, subtle social changes of the Edwardian era into the storylines and quietly looks at how it affects the characters. The Sufragettes movement is largely featured, Maudes mother becomes involved and quickly becomes consumed by it. You feel Edwardian London coming to life around you.
Chevaliers' talent is creating atmosphere and stillness in very ordinary situations and simmering them to boiling point. She can build and inject pressure effortlessly.
I have never had any interest in historic novels but Chevalier could write about a sheet of blank paper and you would devour it!
The fans of 'Girl' do not think this is a modern classic, and maybe it cant live up to 'Girl', yet it has all the terrific Chevalier magic. That makes it a worthy read in my eyes.
Don't get caught up in comparing it with 'Girl' with 'Falling Angels' its not worse, it's just different. This is a divine little book to get lost in, I couldn't recommend it more.
To set a novel primarily in a graveyard sounds morbid and uninspiring, but instead the graveyard becomes an almost comical space, with many hilarious discussions about the superiority of either urns or angels for a tomb. I have never been especially interested in history of this period, but the novel brings it alive, enabling the reader to almost experience the smell, the taste, the excitement of events such as the suffragette's march.
To compare 'Falling Angels' to 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' would be a mistake, as each novel is entirely different in terms of everything from perspective to subject matter. Instead, Chevalier is revealed as a writer of outstanding talent, able to evoke what appears to be a true representation of two entirely separate cultures in two fitting yet wildly different ways.
This novel is very readable and the device of having different characters narrate the story keeps it really fresh. It was also difficult to put this book down as I felt compelled to find out what was going to happen to all of the characters. This novel also transports you to what must have been a really interesting time for society, on the cusp of leaving the Victorian age of repression behind and entering the new 'modern' Edwardian age of progress.
Each character seems to be well-rounded with good and bad points but we are still left with unanswered questions about why some of them act in the way they do, which I think is just how a good book should be - not necessarily giving you ALL the answers, but definitely giving you something to think about. It also integrates contemporary history into the novel as seen on a large scale (women's suffrage) but also intimately records history on a small scale through two families' daily lives.
I read that Chevalier is considering writing a sequel to this novel and I have to say that I would be interested in reading it. For those interested in this novel, I would suggest they look at [...] AFTER they have read Falling Angels, so as not to give anything away beforehand. Thumbs up, Ms Chevalier!
What a fantastic author. She and Philippa Gregory have opened up the genre of Historical Fiction for me.
"Falling Angels" certainly lived up to expectations.
It was fascinating on several levels: the interactions between the upper and lower strata of the middle class at the turn of the century, reactions to the death of Queen Victoria and the new reign of Edward VII, and the development of the Suffragette movement.
Maude Coleman and Livy Waterhouse meet and become friends at the age of 6, when their families visit the local graveyard as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Victoria. The friendship is not approved of by the parents, who are forced to mix with a family outside their class.
Various members of the two households recount the story over a period of 10 years. But it is when Maude's mother, Kitty, becomes involved with the Suffragettes that things really heat up.
This is the first book I've read relating to the fight for the vote, which I take so much for granted. It made fascinating reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Easy interesting read, probably good for over 15year olds to give a small but varied insight into that period. Would recommend it to my granddaughter and daughter.Published 2 days ago by Pat
I loved this book. Was put off by the bad reviews initially but the book was bought for me so decided to read it. Read morePublished 19 days ago by N
Previously read the Last Runaway and really loved it. This was good, well written and and reasonably interesting.Published 1 month ago by alibielsewhere
What a great book. Set in the early part id the 20th February it tells the story of some Edwardian females with their different perspectives and plights. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RW
Absolutely no problems with this book at all. I didn't have too long for it to arrive either.Published 2 months ago by B E Dickenson
I wasn't sure I liked this book but about 3/4 way through I began to enjoy it. The ending was very good.Published 2 months ago by Jan
Unstoppable, once you begin. The sentiments and systems of the era surround these truly credible characters, each of whom develops with an individuality as either the inevitable... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer