Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wise Children, by Angela Carter

I've read several books over the past month, and I simply haven't had a chance to write anything about them here. I'm currently in the midst of two other books, and will soon begin yet another. So, before I get completely bogged down, I want to at least leave brief comments on the three books I've read since August. The first, Wise Children, is the subject of this post.

This novel is an artfully designed, first-person narrative that lives up to its categorization as "magical realism." Blurring fact with fiction, truth with illusion, 75-year-old narrator Dora Chance tells the story of her life. From England to California and back to England again, Dora's adventures as a showgirl, along with her twin sister Nora, are enchanting, hilarious, heartbreaking, mystical, and at times dubious. True or not, every detail adds up to a climactic conclusion. Literally.

Dora and Nora are the illegitimate daughters of a famous Shakespearean actor. Craving and not receiving his love for most of their lives, the girls nevertheless idolize their father from afar. Meanwhile, they amass reputations of their own as they dance their way from stage to stage, lover to lover, celebration to misfortune. The narrative possesses a distinct theatricality that is consistent with Dora's vibrant and eccentric personality; she puts on a dazzling show for readers, inviting them to partake in her show's -- her life's -- pleasures and pains.

I was engrossed from the first page until the last. I think you will be, too.

No comments: