Category: Angela Carter

book review – Wise Children

Sometimes when you read a book there is a quality of voice that carries through the reader and adds to the experience. Most voices that you come across tend to be from people going through the transition from childhood to adulthood. But Angela Carter chooses a narrator in the shape of a 75 year-old twin dancing girl who delightfully leads you through her past and present.

The story of Dora and Nora Chance is one of family, love (often the absence of it) and the wisdom of knowing your place in the world. It reads as if it was a transcript of a conversation with an aged aunt over a cup of tea and some lemon drizzle cake, told over many hours on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon. But this is not just the stuff of memories and it concludes with the sisters wandering through Brixton very much looking forward to the future.

What ties it all together is the search the twin sisters have for recognition from their natural father, Melchior Hazard. He is himself suffering from damage done by his father, but that is only revealed at the end. The only person from the Hazard family to give the girls any recognition is their uncle Perry who keeps them in dancing lessons and shoes and brightens up their lives. The girls grow up under the influence of their grandmother but do have a successful break into Hollywood. A large chunk of the story concentrates on the hollow nature of the US film industry and the girls eventually escape back to England.

But all of the book has been leading up to the climax of Dora and Nora’s father’s 100th birthday. On a night of numerous revelations the twins are finally recognised by their father and get the chance to put a happy full stop to that story.

The book is a joy to read and once the weird cast of characters becomes familiar it does become easier to follow. The things that you are left with at the end of the story arte not just contemplating on the importance of family and love but also harking back for a lost age. The dance hall that the girls became stars of was killed off by cinema and lack of popularity but that doesn’t mean it was replaced with anything better.

The title refers to a saying about the wise child knowing their own father. At the end they know him slightly better but more importantly they know themselves. Their sense of need was fulfilled by the other twin and the only real moments of anxiety in the story comes when Dora and Nora might be separated. But this is a story of optimism and ends with the twins, both 75, heading off into the future in a direction that you could have never expected.

Version read – a QPD (bookclub) paperback

book review – Wise Children

Sometimes when you read a book there is a quality of voice that carries through the reader and adds to the experience. Most voices that you come across tend to be from people going through the transition from childhood to adulthood. But Angela Carter chooses a narrator in the shape of a 75 year-old twin dancing girl who delightfully leads you through her past and present.

The story of Dora and Nora Chance is one of family, love (often the absence of it) and the wisdom of knowing your place in the world. It reads as if it was a transcript of a conversation with an aged aunt over a cup of tea and some lemon drizzle cake, told over many hours on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon. But this is not just the stuff of memories and it concludes with the sisters wandering through Brixton very much looking forward to the future.

What ties it all together is the search the twin sisters have for recognition from their natural father, Melchior Hazard. He is himself suffering from damage done by his father, but that is only revealed at the end. The only person from the Hazard family to give the girls any recognition is their uncle Perry who keeps them in dancing lessons and shoes and brightens up their lives. The girls grow up under the influence of their grandmother but do have a successful break into Hollywood. A large chunk of the story concentrates on the hollow nature of the US film industry and the girls eventually escape back to England.

But all of the book has been leading up to the climax of Dora and Nora’s father’s 100th birthday. On a night of numerous revelations the twins are finally recognised by their father and get the chance to put a happy full stop to that story.

The book is a joy to read and once the weird cast of characters becomes familiar it does become easier to follow. The things that you are left with at the end of the story arte not just contemplating on the importance of family and love but also harking back for a lost age. The dance hall that the girls became stars of was killed off by cinema and lack of popularity but that doesn’t mean it was replaced with anything better.

The title refers to a saying about the wise child knowing their own father. At the end they know him slightly better but more importantly they know themselves. Their sense of need was fulfilled by the other twin and the only real moments of anxiety in the story comes when Dora and Nora might be separated. But this is a story of optimism and ends with the twins, both 75, heading off into the future in a direction that you could have never expected.

Version read – a QPD (bookclub) paperback

book review – Wise Children

Sometimes when you read a book there is a quality of voice that carries through the reader and adds to the experience. Most voices that you come across tend to be from people going through the transition from childhood to adulthood. But Angela Carter chooses a narrator in the shape of a 75 year-old twin dancing girl who delightfully leads you through her past and present.

The story of Dora and Nora Chance is one of family, love (often the absence of it) and the wisdom of knowing your place in the world. It reads as if it was a transcript of a conversation with an aged aunt over a cup of tea and some lemon drizzle cake, told over many hours on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon. But this is not just the stuff of memories and it concludes with the sisters wandering through Brixton very much looking forward to the future.

What ties it all together is the search the twin sisters have for recognition from their natural father, Melchior Hazard. He is himself suffering from damage done by his father, but that is only revealed at the end. The only person from the Hazard family to give the girls any recognition is their uncle Perry who keeps them in dancing lessons and shoes and brightens up their lives. The girls grow up under the influence of their grandmother but do have a successful break into Hollywood. A large chunk of the story concentrates on the hollow nature of the US film industry and the girls eventually escape back to England.

But all of the book has been leading up to the climax of Dora and Nora’s father’s 100th birthday. On a night of numerous revelations the twins are finally recognised by their father and get the chance to put a happy full stop to that story.

The book is a joy to read and once the weird cast of characters becomes familiar it does become easier to follow. The things that you are left with at the end of the story arte not just contemplating on the importance of family and love but also harking back for a lost age. The dance hall that the girls became stars of was killed off by cinema and lack of popularity but that doesn’t mean it was replaced with anything better.

The title refers to a saying about the wise child knowing their own father. At the end they know him slightly better but more importantly they know themselves. Their sense of need was fulfilled by the other twin and the only real moments of anxiety in the story comes when Dora and Nora might be separated. But this is a story of optimism and ends with the twins, both 75, heading off into the future in a direction that you could have never expected.

Version read – a QPD (bookclub) paperback

Wise Children – post IV

The last few pages of this book are a joyous romp as the past mixes with the present at the birthday party. Almost every character appears apart from the couple that have genuinely died.

Having someone reach 100 years old with their mental facilities and health reasonably intact is one thing but for a couple of twins to both get there is odd. By the end of this book the pleasure that comes from reading it is that apart from a couple of characters – grandma and Cyn – almost nobody ever dies.

The same people keep coming back through the story and the leads Dora and Nora are there till the bitter end surrounded by the Hazard family and their various offspring and spouses. Surprise after surprise is sprung, accompanied by trumpets and TV cameras. But in the end you turn the final page with a smile on your face and a feeling that family is what you make it and a wise child is one that understands the limitations as well as the love that can be offered by their father.

A review will follow soon…

Wise Children – post IV

The last few pages of this book are a joyous romp as the past mixes with the present at the birthday party. Almost every character appears apart from the couple that have genuinely died.

Having someone reach 100 years old with their mental facilities and health reasonably intact is one thing but for a couple of twins to both get there is odd. By the end of this book the pleasure that comes from reading it is that apart from a couple of characters – grandma and Cyn – almost nobody ever dies.

The same people keep coming back through the story and the leads Dora and Nora are there till the bitter end surrounded by the Hazard family and their various offspring and spouses. Surprise after surprise is sprung, accompanied by trumpets and TV cameras. But in the end you turn the final page with a smile on your face and a feeling that family is what you make it and a wise child is one that understands the limitations as well as the love that can be offered by their father.

A review will follow soon…

Wise Children – post III

The world of Nora and Dora is one that is enchanting but works better when they are together. The moment they start to drift apart, as they do in Hollywood, they lose something of their personalities.

At the cause of the distance between them are men with Nora involved seriously with an Italian named Tony while Dora is ending her involvement with a drunken Irishman who is the same age as her uncle Perry.

The hollowness of Hollywood starts to eat away at Dora and she yearns to go back to the house in Brixton and get back into that life. But Nora is not as keen to leave and there comes a point at which the relationship between the twins could see them go their different ways.

It all ends in farce with both sisters avoiding marriage by an inch and being dragged back to London with their grandma leading the way. Things are then interrupted by the war with grandma being killed by a bomb and the sisters being left more or less on their own.

That is until their father’s first wife becomes wheel chair bound and penniless and the twins take pity on her and ask her to move in with them. The Hazzard family starts to fall apart and the sisters age and become left in a house with memories and not many visitors after Perry dies and the gulf between them and their natural father seems to be wider than ever.

But of course they have his 100th birthday to go to. But before that there is a chance to dress up and roll back the years.

More tomorrow…

Wise Children – post III

The world of Nora and Dora is one that is enchanting but works better when they are together. The moment they start to drift apart, as they do in Hollywood, they lose something of their personalities.

At the cause of the distance between them are men with Nora involved seriously with an Italian named Tony while Dora is ending her involvement with a drunken Irishman who is the same age as her uncle Perry.

The hollowness of Hollywood starts to eat away at Dora and she yearns to go back to the house in Brixton and get back into that life. But Nora is not as keen to leave and there comes a point at which the relationship between the twins could see them go their different ways.

It all ends in farce with both sisters avoiding marriage by an inch and being dragged back to London with their grandma leading the way. Things are then interrupted by the war with grandma being killed by a bomb and the sisters being left more or less on their own.

That is until their father’s first wife becomes wheel chair bound and penniless and the twins take pity on her and ask her to move in with them. The Hazzard family starts to fall apart and the sisters age and become left in a house with memories and not many visitors after Perry dies and the gulf between them and their natural father seems to be wider than ever.

But of course they have his 100th birthday to go to. But before that there is a chance to dress up and roll back the years.

More tomorrow…