The Birdcage Hardcover – Aug 1 2005
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Trapped in a loveless marriage, Felix begins a passionate affair with Angel, a beguiling young actress and single mother with a similarly enchanting daughter named Lizzie, who comes to think of Felix as the father she never knew. As Felix's attachment for his second family deepens, he dreads the day he may be forced to choose between Angel and Lizzie and his own son, Piers. That day comes when his wife discovers his infidelity, her ultimatum forcing Felix to abruptly walk out of Angel's life forever. Some 40 years later, after Angel's death, Lizzie is tormented by a need to find Felix, and get answers to questions that have plagued her for years. When they reunite, Lizzie finally meets Piers, and these children of former lovers realize they have more in common than their unorthodox background would suggest. Deservedly compared to her countrywomen, Binchy and Pilcher, Willett is an equally gifted storyteller, developing characters that evoke strong feelings as she weaves lusciously intriguing plots. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Deservedly compared to her countrywomen, Binchy and Pilcher, Willett is an equally gifted storyteller.”
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"The Birdcage" spans two generations of very nice people caught up in circumstances that have far-reaching repercussions. It begins in the 50s, in the loveless marriage of Felix and Marina, whose only thing in common is their precocious young son Piers. Marina is a stiff, unyielding woman who stifles her natural adoration of her husband and son beneath a strict, mean exterior that manifests itself in insane jealousy of Felix, and overbearing discipline toward Piers.
When Felix meets lovely, fey, bubbly Angel, a beautiful actress who lives with her roommate Pidge and young daughter Lizzie in a charming house they have named "The Birdcage," the outcome is inevitable. For years, Felix travels on business to Bristol, where he shares a joyous and lively life with the Birdcage household. Angel is his mistress and their love is unchanging. Until Angel pushes the envelope and tragedy ensues.
Fast forward 40 years. Felix is an elderly and frail man; Piers a divorced adult; and Angel and Pidge are long gone. It takes about two chapters to sort out all the new people and figure out their relationships to one another and to the people of the past, and that is the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. But no matter. In an enchanting second half, Lizzie, now grown and an actress on her own, comes back to find Felix--and to ground herself with some understanding of her past. It's a beautiful story that can stand on its own, but when the past meets the present and old wounds are opened and then healed, it makes for a simply lovely story.
Angela Blake is the passionate actress who falls in love with Felx Hamilton. He comes to love the life Angela, her daughter Lizzie, and their housemate Pidge live and becomes a vital part of that life. Lizzie longs for him to be the father she never knew, but Felix has other obligations. He has a family in Exmoor, a wife he no longer loves but a beloved son, Piers, who he cannot forsake. Or can he? Which life will Felix choose and what will be the repercussions for him and the next generation?
The story plays out in two time frames: the 1950's when Angela and Felix first meet, and later in the 1990's when the fall-out from their love affair must be dealt with. This is, above all, Lizzie's story as she seeks to connect the past and the present in order to face her uncertain future.
Rich with the local color of her beloved England, warm with characters you come to love, and heartrending in its plot, this is another five-star read from Marcia Willett.
This is a good read - I enjoyed it. The flow is great, the characters are well done and it is enough to encourage me to read another of MW's books. If I had to use one word I would use
SOOTHING. Well done Marcia! thanks!