Last Mini Thoughts of the Year

angel

These are the last three books I’ve read, but hopefully not the last of the year – I’m determined to finish The Goldfinch by Wednesday.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – The premise of this book could have been brilliant – three different women in different years, 1985, 1942, and 1918 all switch places after having electric shock therapy. Every time one of them gets a treatment they move to one of the different eras. We see the story from the viewpoint of Greta, who originally lives in 1985.  I read this book in two days and I would call it a ‘throw away’ novel. Entertaining, yet ultimately forgettable and not at all brilliant.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey – This short Persephone Classic, which is the length of a novella, takes place in one setting and in one day – the home of the Thatcham’s on daughter Dolly’s wedding day. It is really a small series of sketches that give us a glimpse into the family, but only that – the reader is left to assume an awful lot. This vagueness is made up for with cutting humor and a sense of chaos and urgency that propels you to the end. I liked this book, wanted more and think I will probably read it again some time to pick up on the subtle details I’m sure I missed on my first read.

Angel by Elizabeth Taylor – I’ve saved the best for last. Angel is my third book by Elizabeth Taylor this year and cemented my devotion to her writing. I completely adored this story about a delusional, narcissistic girl who becomes a famous and quite wealthy romance author at the beginning of the 20th century. Once you encounter her, you will never forget Angel Deverell – she epitomizes the terms ‘living in her own little world’ and ‘blind to reality’. Everything revolves around her, everyone exists to satisfy her needs and wants and she’s completely oblivious to how her actions affect those around her, not that she has many friends as you can imagine. Reading this felt almost like a fairy tale to me as Angel has created her own version of the perfect world and blithely refuses to let reality creep in. Her gowns, her houses and her relationships all conform to the notions she’s created in her head from childhood. The last third of the book is especially beautiful as Angel confronts aging and poverty and the reader is allowed to pity her. This is a spectacular book and a great place to start with Elizabeth Taylor if you’ve never read her.

More about these novels:

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding at The Captive Reader

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding at The Worm Hole

Angel at A Work in Progress

Angel at Stuck in a Book

And here is a short essay about Elizabeth Taylor in the NYT Book Review.

Enjoy the last Sunday of the year!

12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The Julia Strachey novella seems like something I’d really like, and I do plan to try Elizabeth Taylor in the coming year. The premise of Impossible Lives sounds very intriguing (I love time-slip stories), so it’s disappointing to hear it’s not great. I saw your tweet about High Rising – I guess it’s not anywhere on the edges of the tree, where it could be extracted & replaced? How frustrating!

    1. I think you would like the Julia Strachey, but I’m not sure about Elizabeth Taylor – I’ll be interested to see what you think if you do read her next year.
      I think High Rising is either in the middle of the tree or at the back of the tree (which I can’t get to without knocking the whole thing down!) so I guess I’ll have to wait. I bought myself a copy of Wild Strawberries for Christmas and want to get started with Thirkell soon.

  2. Angel sounds like a wonderful book. I still haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Taylor but if I decide to try her books I’ll take your advice and think about starting with that one.

    1. Elizabeth Taylor is severely underrated. I had a hard time meshing with her style, but it was worth persevering. You could also start with her first novel, At Mrs. Lippincote’s – it is also wonderful.

  3. I loved Angel–I didn’t manage to read a single Elizabeth Taylor novel this year and really must rectify that in 2014! I also very much enjoyed Cheerful Weather for the Wedding–it might well end up on my favorites list! Good luck finishing the Tartt! And Happy New Year!

    1. I finished The Goldfinch just in time – it was a great reading experience. There will be lots of Elizabeth Taylor for me in 2014 as I’d like to read as many of her novels as I can this year. I think she is just wonderful. Happy New Year!

  4. Lovely photo!
    I adored Cheerful Weather so much the first time I read it, and told so many people about it, but weirdly liked it less when I re-read before watching the film… maybe third time will push it back to a favourite!
    (Thanks for the link :))

    1. Did you like the film? I watched the trailer online and it looked so different from the book.
      I think I might like Cheerful Weather better on a second read as I now know not to expect a plot.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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