Angelica Deverell is most likely a child that you would never want to meet. And somehow Elizabeth Taylor made me like her, or at least enjoy reading about her.
As a teenager when the story opens, Angel is being reprimanded for making up stories at school. She writes these stories for class assignments and makes up extravagant stories about her family for the eager ears of her classmates. She is more comfortable in her dream world and her imagination is quite vivid. Her mother, a widow, doesn’t approve, and has sacrificed much of the family money to send Angel to school in hopes that she will end up being something more than a shopkeeper’s daughter. With a temper and a reputation for telling lies, Angel does not get along well at school. Her ironical name is most evident in the way that she treats others, particularly her mother. Though she is not likable, she is not at all painted as a villain. Her arrogance and outward confidence seem to mask insecurity and possibly loneliness.
Unlike most young girls, Angel is not eager to marry and she lightly reflects that she wants to control the world and not just one single person. At the moment she can control her mother and her own thoughts. In her mind she retreats to dream worlds where the furnishings are lush and the atmosphere is heavy with romance. Her stories are over-the-top. She imagines all sorts of plots and surroundings even though she has experienced none of it herself. She hardly reads and doesn’t find it necessary. She puts herself square into these dream worlds and spends large amounts of time formulating the plots. She even pats herself on the back for being able to do this. She proclaims that she will be an author and promptly fakes being sick to avoid going to school and facing girls that do not like her. She starts her first novel and writes fiercely, often hiding her writing from her mother.
We follow Angel through the entirety of her life as she works towards her goal as a famous (though maybe infamous) and wealthy author. She writes multiple books that are popular but not for their literary merit. With her success, she moves into the home that she has dreamed about her entire life. But what we see is a painful realization that intense fantasy can not outlast reality. Though the reader sees it I am not sure Angel can. She remains unwavering even as her dream life and home crumble around her.
I didn’t intend to have two Elizabeth Taylor’s post back-to-back. I’ve been a bit lax in my posting and have a few books waiting to be written about.