Fiction · Historical

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier

What is it about?

Spanning the full Edwardian period (1901-1910), Falling Angels is a story of changing moral values, women’s rights, and friendship; chiefly, the friendship between the curious Maude Coleman (a girl from a wealthy but progressive family) and the traditional Lavinia (from a less well-off but much more straight-laced family). They meet at the age of five, and the book follows them – and the struggles of their respective families – as they grow up and, in some senses, grow apart. Things change dramatically throughout novel, from Maude’s mother becoming a suffragette to Lavinia’s first kiss, but one thing stays the same; the girls’ joint fascination and love of the local cemetery.

Is it any good?

I went into this with high hopes. I’d utterly adored Chevalier’s Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Last Runaway, but to mention those masterpieces in the same sentence as Falling Angels feels just plain wrong. It just doesn’t compare – it would be like comparing diamonds to coal, or wine to Ribena. But even if I wasn’t familiar with Chevalier’s other works, I think I would have found this book a disappointment. The characters are hammed up caricatures. There’s way too much telling rather than showing. Lavinia’s character is inconsistent. The sex scene is atrocious. And yet I couldn’t put this book down – there was something fundamentally likeable about it. This is for you if you’re looking for an easy read, if not a masterpiece.

Rating: 5/10

How long did it take to read: three days

For fans of: Downton Abbey, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, the works of Dickens

This book tastes like: lavender cupcakes

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