Picks and Pans Review: Falling Angels
Kitty Coleman enters the new century depressed and hoping for a reawakening. But when she goes to bed with a man who is not her husband, her first thought in the morning is the fear that "nothing has changed but a number"—the date. It's 1901 in London, the day after Queen Victoria's death.
Visiting family graves, Kitty's 5-year-old daughter Maude befriends two children whose families might not otherwise interact: an apprentice gravedigger and a middle-class girl who selected the sentimental angel adorning the tombstone of a family member.
Over the next nine years, Chevalier shifts among the viewpoints of these Victorians dying to break free: of their classes, their genders and especially of their era. But as Kitty's hunger for change takes her into the women's suffrage movement against her husband's wishes, the characters' fates intertwine tragically.
The mix of personal and historical drama is not as convincing as in Chevalier's beloved novel about Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring. Still, Chevalier offers a thoughtful exploration of the ways people misread each other by being trapped in their own perspectives. (Dutton, $24.95)
Bottom Line: Gravely appealing