Consumer advertising: A highly praised hardback bestseller [more than 40,000 copies sold since August] by the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring that has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone. Consumer promotion: Author PR campaign. (Temporary)
January 1901. Queen Victoria is one day dead; two families visit their respective family graves to mourn, and two girls meet, become friends, and bring their relatives together in unexpected ways. As in her first novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier excels at capturing subtle social nuances and setting historical scenes. Key among the characters who narrate parts of the story is beautiful and frustrated Kitty Coleman, who, as the times shift from Victorian to modern, embraces the change with a bid for personal freedom. Her secrets and lies have disastrous consequences. The novel is infused with enriching details the proper fabric for mourning handkerchiefs, how to host an "at home" (an open house), and the route the suffragettes took on their march to Hyde Park. Like an E.M. Forster novel filtered through a modern sensibility, Falling Angels takes us back to the early 20th century and keeps us there, waiting to see what Kitty and her crowd will do next. Boldly plotted and beautifully written, this impressive novel is highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Yvette W. Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'As in Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier displays an enviable knack for evoking a particular period and place, and her handling of some of the novel's most poignant moments is unfailingly sensitive.' Independent on Sunday 'Falling Angels is as cleverly atmospheric as Girl with a Pearl Earring. A well researched and vividly imagined tale.' Sunday Telegraph 'Chevalier handles this material beautifully. The result is a novel that shows both the strangeness of the world as it was and its closeness to our own time.' The Times 'Pearl Earring fans will love the evocation of atmosphere one would expect from this writer. Tracy Chevalier gives the kiss of life to the historical novel.' Independent
Adult/High School-An insightful look at the social, political, and economic issues of Edwardian England as well as a compelling story with well-drawn characters. Three children form an unlikely friendship in a London cemetery. The family of five-year-old Maude Coleman has a plot adjoining that of the family of five-year-old Lavinia Waterhouse. Both families are uncomfortable with the other's choice of memorial. The Waterhouses' sentimental angel offends the Colemans' more elegant taste and their ornate urn is seen as pretentious by their neighbors. Petty irritations concerning the mourning dress of the women on the occasion of Queen Victoria's death emphasize the superficial constraints of English society and ironically foreshadow societal changes to come. The two children from similar backgrounds but different social classes are drawn to one another and to the young son of the cemetery's caretaker, clearly an unsuitable playmate by the standards of the day. Simon is as outrageous and worldly as Maude and Lavinia are cautious and innocent. Over the next 10 years, the girls become close companions whose favorite activity is to cavort with Simon among the tombstones. The children, their parents, and the other minor but significant characters provide short narratives that begin with superficial concerns deeply felt and end with a series of tragic events. The changes in first-person voice are effective in portraying the characters' emotions as they interact and serve as an interesting device to move the plot. Teens will anguish over the fate of Maude's mother and Lavinia's sister and shake their heads as they ponder the consequences of the customs and mores of those earlier times.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
No small part of the appeal of Chevalier's excellent debut, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was its plausibility; readers could readily accept the idea that Vermeer's famous painting might indeed have been created under circumstances similar to Chevalier's imaginative scenario. The same cannot be said about her second novel. While Chevalier again proves adept at evoking a historical era this time, London at the turn of the 19th century she has devised a plot whose contrivances stretch credibility. When Maude Coleman and Lavinia Waterhouse, both five years of age, meet at their families' adjoining cemetery plots on the day after Queen Victoria's death, the friendship that results between sensitive, serious-minded Maude and narcissistic, melodramatic Livy is not unlikely, despite the difference in social classes. But the continuing presence in their lives of a young gravedigger, Simon Field, is. Far too cheeky for a boy of his age and class, Simon plays an important part in the troubles that will overtake the two families. Other characters are gifted with insights inappropriate to their age or station in life. Yet Chevalier again proves herself an astute observer of a social era, especially in her portrayal of the lingering sentimentality, prejudices and early stirrings of social change of the Victorian age. When Maude's mother, Kitty, becomes obsessively involved with the emerging suffragette movement, the plot gathers momentum. While it's obvious that tragedy is brewing, Chevalier shows imaginative skill in two neatly accomplished surprises, and the denouement packs an emotional wallop. While not as accomplished a work as Girl, the ironies inherent in the dramatic unfolding of two families' lives ultimately endow this novel with an impressive moral vision. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Oct. 15) Forecast: The popularity of Girl with a Pearl Earring among reading groups and its record as a bestseller will provide a ready audience for Chevalier's new effort. The perennial appeal of books set in post-Victorian England should be another asset. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.