Wednesday 10 July 2013

Chevalier, Tracy "Falling Angels"

Chevalier, Tracy "Falling Angels" - 2001

This is not the first Tracy Chevalier book and nor will it be the last. The author just manages to tell the most fascinating tales. I love her style. And her subjects. All of them.

Two ordinary families who have not a lot in common, other than a family plot on an Edwardian London cemetery. Or have they? The two little girls like each other instantly and become best friends, and everything else starts from there. Tracy Chevalier has the most invigorate talent of gripping your interest, if not from the first page, then certainly from the second. You want to know everything about the Waterhouses and the Colemans, you fear with them, you rejoice with them.

The book has a lot of subjects, friendship between the two girls, rivalry between and among the families, love and death, betrayal, engagement, politics. With every chapter, Tracy Chevalier gives another character the chance to tell us her or his point of view, that makes it so much more exciting. I like this way of storytelling.

The topic that fascinated me most, and probably most other women, was the history of the suffragettes and how much they had to endure to give us all a right that seemed natural for men. Without them, who knows what our world would look like today? But we also see the opinion of those who opposed the idea, even women who thought it might be better to leave voting to the men.

 It is great that the author gives us a glimpse into a society long forgotten, the reign of King Edward VII who had to take over a country created by his mother, Queen Victoria, who led his people into a new century, a transition into a new era, he had to cope with all sorts of new technology and hence new ideas in the minds of people.

Tracy Chevalier's strongest point, she tells us the story of everyday people in a changing world, in a difficult time. It is so much easier to understand any kind of history that way, what were the effects of big politics on the people. I love her books for that.

Tracy Chevalier has also a wonderful page about this book.

From the back cover:

"A poignant tale of two families brought reluctantly together.

A powerful novel on the changing of a nation, the fight for women's suffrage and the questioning of steadfast beliefs.

January 1901, the day after Queen Victoria’s death: Two families visit neighbouring graves in a fashionable London cemetery. The Waterhouses revere the late Queen and cling to Victorian traditions; the Colemans look forward to a more modern society. To their mutual distaste, the families are inextricably linked when their daughters become friends behind the tombstones. 

As the girls grow up and the new century finds its feet, as cars replace horses and electricity outshines gas lighting, the nation emerges from the shadows of oppressive Victorian values to a golden Edwardian summer.

Find here the other books I read by this author.

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