Last Mini Thoughts of the Year


These are the last three books I’ve read, but hopefully not the last of the year – I’m determined to finish The Goldfinch by Wednesday.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – The premise of this book could have been brilliant – three different women in different years, 1985, 1942, and 1918 all switch places after having electric shock therapy. Every time one of them gets a treatment they move to one of the different eras. We see the story from the viewpoint of Greta, who originally lives in 1985.  I read this book in two days and I would call it a ‘throw away’ novel. Entertaining, yet ultimately forgettable and not at all brilliant.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey – This short Persephone Classic, which is the length of a novella, takes place in one setting and in one day – the home of the Thatcham’s on daughter Dolly’s wedding day. It is really a small series of sketches that give us a glimpse into the family, but only that – the reader is left to assume an awful lot. This vagueness is made up for with cutting humor and a sense of chaos and urgency that propels you to the end. I liked this book, wanted more and think I will probably read it again some time to pick up on the subtle details I’m sure I missed on my first read.

Angel by Elizabeth Taylor – I’ve saved the best for last. Angel is my third book by Elizabeth Taylor this year and cemented my devotion to her writing. I completely adored this story about a delusional, narcissistic girl who becomes a famous and quite wealthy romance author at the beginning of the 20th century. Once you encounter her, you will never forget Angel Deverell – she epitomizes the terms ‘living in her own little world’ and ‘blind to reality’. Everything revolves around her, everyone exists to satisfy her needs and wants and she’s completely oblivious to how her actions affect those around her, not that she has many friends as you can imagine. Reading this felt almost like a fairy tale to me as Angel has created her own version of the perfect world and blithely refuses to let reality creep in. Her gowns, her houses and her relationships all conform to the notions she’s created in her head from childhood. The last third of the book is especially beautiful as Angel confronts aging and poverty and the reader is allowed to pity her. This is a spectacular book and a great place to start with Elizabeth Taylor if you’ve never read her.

More about these novels:

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding at The Captive Reader

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding at The Worm Hole

Angel at A Work in Progress

Angel at Stuck in a Book

And here is a short essay about Elizabeth Taylor in the NYT Book Review.

Enjoy the last Sunday of the year!