4.0 out of 5 stars Chevalier never disappoints! good read
enjoyed another of Chevalier's work. good plot - imaginative writing. planning to download more of her stories! Have read three of hers already and enjoyed all.
Published 5 months ago by margaret g hanna
3.0 out of 5 stars A preview of better things to come
I was very relieved to find out that "The Virgin Blue" was written before "Girl With a Pearl Earring," and "Falling Angels." "The Virgin Blue" is wildly uneven, not merely because the writing is split between two different eras, the modern era of Ella Turner and the Sixteenth Century world of Isabelle Tournier.
The more compelling story, by far, centers on Isabelle...
Published on July 31 2003 by Chris Vallancourt
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chevalier never disappoints! good read,
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This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Kindle Edition)enjoyed another of Chevalier's work. good plot - imaginative writing. planning to download more of her stories! Have read three of hers already and enjoyed all.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best of the best.,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)Despite its familiar theme, FALLING ANGELS is a book about doing what is right and morally correct versus doing what truly makes one happy. The narrative moves forward, always in the first person, from the mouth of each major protagonist who commits his or her own brand of "against the grain" behavior and/or scandal. FALLING ANGELS seems to suggest that moral structure are inventions of man, the things that keep us in order. And simply put, such inventions are not natural. The better "angels" of our nature strive to do what is deemed correct, because this is the way we are "brought up." Yet the psychological, physiological and genetic codes of humans are not abstract. They are in constant conflict with moral structure. If we fail to recognize this, we let society cast us as "failures," even if we aren't. Chevalier doesn't preach, and the grisly details of the scandalous portions of her story take place mostly "off camera," vividly residing in the imaginations of the reader. I like this. But the true mastery of "Falling Angels" is the abrupt change of pace that occupies the last third of her novel, a portion which carries the momentum of a locomotive. A cast of thousands, mostly nameless, gather for a pivotal event that proves devastating. Chevalier delivers a big "set piece" filled with thousands of activities going on at once -- and the surprise is -- even though they're told from different points of view, the reader is never confused. If you're looking for another great book to read, might I suggest the ever-popular CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae? It's funny, horrifying, jaw-dropping, heart-warming, exotic, shocking, disturbing, and a rollercoaster of a ride.
4.0 out of 5 stars An bit of an Academic Response,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)The first drawback of anything Chevalier writes is that her writing skills are good. Not excellent, just satisfactory. What makes up for this ,however, is her methodical research and her ability to draw you into the world of Edwardian London. Other reviewers are saying "she discounts the suffrage movement" and "puts too much emphasis on the morbid", which are valid criticism, but I believe they are also a bit shallow, from my experience in this field of study (and I have lots of practical experience in this field of study), Chevalier immerses you in this world. The suffragettes are incredibly important to us now, but back in 1905, the criticisms of their political activity was harsh. Women were told "you can vote...when your work is done", and that they'd drop the issue as soon as they go bored with it. And its should be noted the Victorians were OBSESSED with protocol. Chevalier does a marvelous job immersing you in her subjective world...if you are looking for an objective account, I suggest you buy a history book instead. For those of you historiophiles who enjoy a well researched historical fiction, pick up this book.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Change from the Normal,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)When I picked up this book, I expected it to be much like Girl with a Pearl Earring, but in fact is was quite different. Not only are there far more characters that are being trusted but also the children in this story take a much bigger role. I can't say I was disappointed but I surely was surprised. While I didn't like it nearly as much as Girl with a Pearl Earring I felt that the same things happened while reading this book.
1. I was transported to this time with these people.
2. I was engaged by the characters and their actions; There were things I was wishing would happen, but I was disappointed with the outcome.
3. I found the style, character development, and plot easy to understand and the twists and turns not obvious.
Great book, I highly recommend.
1.0 out of 5 stars A Different Drummer,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)As far as FALLING ANGELS goes, I obviously am very much at odds with the majority of this website's reader-reviewers: I hated this book! I thought that it was a cheat, on many levels.
First of all, it was short. It only took me about an hour to read.
For the most part, it was a book about the stylized and self-conscious Victorian ritual of mourning among the upper class English; and the better part of the book was nothing more than a detailed report on cemetery and crypt design, on mourning clothes and mourning jewelry and mourning stationery and mourning time schedules.
Author Tracy Chevalier uses the term "mute" in the context of mourners with no further explanation. Were mutes, then, paid mourners who filled out a funeral, and kept silent during the service?
Her greatest insult, however, was to the women's suffrage movement. According to her telling, the suffragettes were little more than a group of bored women, slightly hysterical, who viewed their political goals as a silly game. I have read many books on the women's suffrage movement and I never have come across this interpretation anywhere else. She has slandered a movement that moved the cause of women into the 20th century.
I didn't care for Chevalier's earlier fiction, GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE--I didn't even like the movie it was made into, which bombed at the box office. I far preferred the competing novel, GIRL WITH PEARL EARRING, which was published at that same time as BLUE.
I will not be reading Chevalier's future work.
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay, so we all like a bit of morbid drama now and then....,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)Tracy Chevalier plays upon wonderful funereal imagery to depict a turn of the century Madame Bovary who is destined to ruin herself (and everyone around her)in her search for "self". This novel contrasts a status quo married family with the hopeless Kitty, a woman searching for something more while she already possesses more than she can appreciate in her own family.
Kitty and her family are much like Flaubert's Charles and Emma Bovary in contrast to neighbors M. Homais and family. This is a great psychological novel about finding balance. I was as mad at Kitty as I was at Emma Bovary and Anna Karennina for not waking up and realizing what a nice child she had, what a patient husband (if not passionate), what a nice house!
This novel is:
+Quick and tragic
+Faulknerian in its use of multiple veiwpoints (very nice touch for a turn of the century novel)
+Awesome in character development--I love little Simon just like I loved Victor Hugo's gamin,Gavroche.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)This was just simply a great book. It is written in a journal format with several characters of the book taking a chapter or journal entry to tell the story. I really love how this author writes. If you liked any of her other books, give this one a try also. She absolutely transports you to England in the early 1900's. Mourning etiquette, women's suffrage, and infidelity are just some things you will learn about and how they were viewed in the 1900's. Buy it!
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree with another reviewer,
By A Customer
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)I agree with the previous reviewer in that Chevalier is one of the few authors whose books I'll pick up, just because her name is on the cover. I've read all of hers, and while "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is top on my list, "Falling Angels" is second. But I can understand some people's hesitation, especially if they got half-way through this excellent read, for while the first half is gentle and warm, the story turns dark. But then, the essence of drama is conflict, right? And we can't expect Chevalier to always do the same thing. The fact that she's written as many "different" books as she has is testament to her talent.
But aside from her name and excellent premises, the best thing about Ms. C. is her writing style. It flows like water, effortlessly, like something written by McCrae (think "Bark of the Dogwood" or possibly some of Min's novels.) By all means, read this book, but don't pass up "Girl with A Pearl Earring" as it is her best effort.
Also recommended: "Girl With a Pearl Earring," Empress Orchid, "Bark of the Dogwood.
4.0 out of 5 stars Falling Angels,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)Of all of Chevalier's novels, this by far was my favorite. Each and every character was interesting and strongly solidified. The darkness of the fascination with the cemetary, the determination and deviance of the mother, the relationship between the neighbors, all of it spinning a truly marvelous tale with words. Definately the best of Chevalier's writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal Journal Reveals Hushed Secrets / Private Thoughts,
This review is from: Falling Angels: A Novel (Paperback)The popularity of "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (book and film), plus a review of *this* book by an acquaintance, convinced me, "read this book" ... read anything by this author. From the first page to the last, this book held my attention. I read it in one sitting, cover to cover, over several hours, unable to put it down.
I was intrigued by the first entry in the book ... a rather risque confession by Kitty Coleman, that she had 'swapped husbands' at a New Year's Eve party, to show she was 'open-minded'. Furthermore, she questions her up-bringing, deemed "too much education for a woman" by some, during the Victorian era. It dawns on Kitty that her dissatisfaction with her marriage and life in general has a lot to do with inability to communicate with her husband on things that are *most* important to her. While she has a good life by the standards of the times, she is restless and dissatisfied -- she is looking for an outlet. Right from the start, this novel hooks the reader. It is from this major personal conflict that many "secret" events unfold, which later affect the lives of most of the characters in the book. This reader gives high praise for the subject matter and creartive writing ability of the author. The setting alone, where major events occur, unfold, is outstanding -- a graveyard, where two eleven year olds first meet and become "best friends". The technique of writing from the viewpoint of the first person, through the eyes of the person experiencing the event or recalling how they felt at the time, is perfect. It is unique, creative and highly effective for the subject and the era in which the events occured.
Another outstanding feature of this book, is how the two families who are the main characters meet ... they both have graves in a famous cemetery, that are next to each other. Each makes a negative judgement about the selection of gravestone marker for their loved one ... this is so human, so real, such a fascinating a way to begin a story. After the two eleven year old girls become 'best friends', they befriend the grave-digger's son, Simon, who shows the girls the different 'angel' grave markers throughout the cemetery. The girls often come to visit the cemetery, view the angel markers and speak with Simon. They accompany the maid, who is sent on errands to town. However, besides errands, the maid has a personal agenda, she is having a romantic affair with one of the gravdiggers. We also learn, later, that Mrs. Kitty Coleman is also meeting someone at the cemetery. She has developed an intellectual relationship with Mr. John Jackson, the manager of the graveyard. This intellectual relationship gradually develops into a physical romantic affair. Along the way, Kitty discovers a "cause" which consumes much of her energy, the suffragettes. She dedicatea her time and energy to this one means of "freeing up women" from the limitations imposed by society ... this cause .... and her romance with Mr. John Jackson, eventually becomes her undoing. The book is worth reading to discover the means by which this occurs ...
This one event has a major impact on the lives of most of the characters who provide journal entries in this book. One major life event in one family, leads to another totally unexpected crisis, that impacts the second family featured in the book, the Waterhouse family. The manner in which the author weaves the cemetery into the story ... from the highly worth the read. Learning how the lives of these two families intertwine, as they become "backyard neighbors" is fascinating. Most highly recommended. Erika Borsos (erikab93)
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Falling Angels: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier (Paperback - Sept. 24 2002)
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