Review: Wise Children, Angela Carter

Claire of Paperback Reader has selected April as the month to make everybody read Angela Carter, her favorite ever author.  Her enthusiasm is contagious!  And so even though I got tired of Angela Carter’s fairy tales when I tried to read The Bloody Chamber (I can’t be doing with too many short stories at once), and even though I gave up on Nights at the Circus a while ago (it fell due and I was reading other books), I decided to try again.  I am the master of trying again.

By the way, I do not like it that “master of X” is gender-specific and does not translate across gender lines.  “Mistress of trying again” sounds like Trying Again and I are meeting in seedy motels on weekends when Trying Again’s wife is visiting her family.  Particularly when I have just finished reading a book that is all about convoluted sexual relationships.

Wise Children is about twins Nora and Dora Chance, the illegitimate daughters of Shakespearean actor Melchior Hazard.  As the their father’s 100th birthday party dawns, Dora remembers her past with Nora, their early days as dancers in pantos and variety shows, their father’s mistresses and wives and children, their own affairs, the events that took them from London to Hollywood and back again.  Many are the twins and much is the confusing and blurry implication of incest here and incest there, exactly blurrily enough implied so as not to bother me.

I think that Angela Carter is like what I imagine marzipan to be like, or maybe this particular sort of chocolate mint cake my father has: delicious and rich but you maybe wouldn’t want a massive lot of it at once.  I’m excited to read The Magic Toyshop, but between then and now I want to read several other books that have a completely different flavor.  (Jacqueline Woodson, Maggie O’Farrell, Ysabeau Wilce, A.S. Byatt, Ysabeau Wilce, would have been Martha Southgate and Bob Woodward too but the downtown library was closed.)  That said, I loved Angela Carter’s writing.  I loved her depiction of London, and I loved the way she left some things to the reader’s imagination.

In addition to having sentences too utterly plummy for words, Wise Children has an unbelievable number of characters.  I sometimes had difficulty in keeping track of all the characters, which bothered me a bit until the end.  At the end, everything came together most satisfyingly!  Y’all know how I love endings where all the bits come together.

This is my first Angela Carter novel.  I am looking forward to reading more (but not immediately).  And I did actually finish it during Angela Carter April, only I was slow about writing a review.  That is because I was finishing the Company novels.  Had to finish ’em.  Wanted the cyborgs to bring down the Company.

Other reviews:

Steph and Tony Investigate!

Let me know if I missed yours!