29 Jul 2010


It is January, 1914 and Jonathan Crane returns home from his travels with a new American bride, former Coney Island showgirl Beatrice. In the remote Lancashire village Beatrice is the focus of attention, the men captivated by her beauty, the women initially charmed by tales of her upbringing in Normal, Illinois with her father, an amateur taxidermist, and her brother, a preacher, although she will take the story of how she became the Angel of Brooklyn to her grave. But when the men head off to fight in the Great War the glamorous newcomer slowly becomes an object of suspicion and jealousy for the women who are left behind and, as the years pass, and their resentment grows, Beatrice's secret proves to be her ending.

....... From the outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: A week before they killed her, Beatrice told them about the dead birds, the guillemot, the glass-eyed buzzards, the sparrowhawks in clusters on the mantelpiece.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: He stuffed one of these little marmosets and he gave it to his wife to keep as a companion. Now she dresses it in soldier suits and takes the creature everywhere. When she visits friends and restaurants, she hooks it onto a chair by its tail.

A real mixture of a book in that there were several elements to it - combining the story of Beatrice's life as a married woman to her childhood and then onto her life as the Angel of Brooklyn and back again, all  interlaced with the letters sent between the various people in Beatrice's life - this was a very 'busy' story.

Rather quirky in style. I think the author took a bit of a risk choosing to write the book as she did. A risk that, to me, didn't always pay off as at times the flow of the narrative became slightly disjointed, the plot interrupted.

All about love, loss and what it can mean to be seen as being different, there were some interesting, well written characters. I especially admired Beatrice as a character - truly rounded, complex and with several sides to her nature, I found her fascinating. If only the same could be said of all the others - suspicious and envious, it was amazing to see the change in the women once their men had gone to war.

A very readable book which I, on the whole, really enjoyed. But what happened to the ending? Very strange, it seemed to me that the author had run out of ideas and just didn't know how to finish the story which ended rather abruptly.

Angel Of Brooklyn was a book club read.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

This sounds like quite an interesting book! A bit bizarre, maybe, but interesting!