Sunday, March 21, 2010

Falling Angels ~ by Tracy Chevalier, 2001

I got this book to read for the Women Unbound reading challenge because Emmeline Pankhurst is in it (click on her name to read what I wrote about her in December). This photo shows her being arrested during a protest about women's right to vote.  Pankhurst does show up in Falling Angels, but not in any major way.  The one fighting for women's rights in this book is the mother of one of the little girls who like to play in the cemetery in their neighborhood.  During one of the protests, Emeline Pankhurst is present, but the book's action centers on what the girl's mother does -- and fails to do.  Here's a scene where the fathers of the girls are talking (from page 223):
"Tell me Albert, how do you handle your wife?"

I stumbled over a paving stone.  "How do I handle my wife?"  With firm affection, I thought, as I regained my balance.  I did not say so aloud -- there are things men do not say aloud.

"Kitty has blackmailed me," Richard continued.

"How so?"

"She says that if I try to forbid her to work for the suffragettes she will begin giving speeches at rallies.  Can you imagine the Coleman name all over those infernal handbills they pass out?  Or plastered on posters, or chalked on the pavement?  Holloway [the prison] almost killed my mother from the shame of it -- this would finish her off.  What would you do in my situation?"

I was trying to picture Trudy making such a threat, but it was impossible to imagine.
There are several stories running through this book, including the one with the maid who was quoted in my earlier teaser.  I did not enjoy this book as much as some of Chevalier's others, such as Girl with a Pearl Earring, or my favorite, Remarkable Creatures, which I reviewed recently.  Therefore I rate Falling Angels 7 of 10, good but not excellent.

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