Book Reviews
Miss Garnet’s Angel: Salley Vickers
16th Mar 2010Posted in: Book Reviews Comments Off on Miss Garnet’s Angel: Salley Vickers
Miss Garnet’s Angel: Salley Vickers

A quiet, beautifully crafted story with great depth. The author’s intelligence and knowledge of the variety of themes explored are evident, as well as her familiarity with the city of Venice – a character in its own right – and its treasures. It’s a delight to put yourself in her hands and know that you have over 300 pages to enjoy.

The story begins simply: Julia Garnet is a retired schoolteacher whose long-time friend and flatmate has just died, leaving her some money. Touched by something of the spirit of her friend – who was more adventurous than she is – Miss Garnet decides to take her courage in both hands and spend six months exploring Venice. From the moment she arrives the city and its people – whether tourists like herself or natives – seem intent on changing her, and I found myself fascinated by the way Miss Garnet’s inner life is warmed into perception, expression, and even passion. Although both communist and atheist, she’s drawn to a statue of the angel Raphael, and comes across his likeness throughout the city, gradually piecing together both the ancient story from the Book of Tobit and the parallel that’s being played out among her new friends.

The characters are drawn with insight and delicacy, the themes of the novel: love, death, friendship, religion, art and truth as well as what makes each of us human are woven together skilfully to create a very special book, one to add to the few that I return to read again and again.

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