I love copying excerpts, if only to remember the author's tone.
This book, written by the daughter of lyricist Tim Rice, has an Alice in Wonderland quality.
It took me several chapters to grow accustomed to the affected mannerisms and language, but then the characters grew real to me.
I really enjoyed this story.
"Charlotte's coat was exquisitely comfortable and warm. It seemed a little slice of her had stayed hidden in its lining, and it felt strange, like putting on a mask. She wriggled into my coat, pulling her mass of hair over the collar. The effect shocked me, not least because she possessed the actress's ability to change the aura around her simply by altering her clothing. It was as if she had been given her costume for the evening and she was instantly immersed in her part."
Some of the author's descriptions are just so wonderful:"His bride virtually ran down the aisle and into his arms, a green-eyed, inky-haired fairy in white lace, already three months pregnant with me
." (page 27)"'Sit down next to me,' she pleaded, and I did, feeling the stone step warm on my thighs in the late-afternoon sun. I rubbed my fingers over a stalk of rosemary and lay back, listening to the hypnotic buzzing of the wasps in their nest in the old pear tree. The garden was the center of the universe, and within its walls lay the whole world, Eden-esque."
(page 28)"Glimpsed from the road, through a gap in the estate walls or a break in the avenue of whispering limes, Magna sits like a sapphire among the trees--part birthday cake, part ocean liner, part sculpture, part skeleton--a magnificent, ostentatious chunk of history, immediately defining those who have lived within its walls with the same adjectives."
On shopping:"There was something gorgeously theatrical about Selfridges, with its intoxicating smells of powder and perfume and the rows of salesgirls with shapely fingernails and Thursday-afternoon smiles. It was impossible to imagine anything bad happening to anyone in such a place, and as always, I felt my intellectual resolve weaken. I wanted everything, everything, everything--in fact, I felt myself positively winded by my need to consume."
On friends:"It was amazing how easy I felt with her, despite all my worrying. She was so utterly familiar to me, like a character from a favorite book come to life. I joined her by the window. The kitchen garden lay still under its white blanket, which gave me an odd sense of freedom. Silently, I thanked God for giving me temporary respite from the location I associated so strongly with the night my parents met."
(page 66)"Dear Aunt Clare. If ever there was a tangent, she was off on it."
the definition of happiness:"'There was a lightness about him,' said Aunt Clare. 'That's the only word I can think of to describe it. You have it too.'
'What do you mean?'
Aunt Clare stretched her hand out toward my whiskey.
'He struck me as being terribly good at living, which is the greatest gift anyone can have. A talent for life.'
'You mean he seemed very happy?'
'Not just happy,' said Aunt Clare. 'Nothing as straightforward as that.'
'What do you mean, then?'
'He was at ease with himself, he was at home in his own skin. I remember seeing the waitress light up when he asked her where she got her pretty shoes.'"
(page 322)"Happiness can be frightening when one is not used to the sensation
." (page 330)"I had become used to ache now; it was with me all the time, and never seemed to lessen. Time was no healer, I decided, but it was a great accommodator."
Labels: Book Review