Miss Garnet’s Angel is a voyage of discovery, a novel about Venice but also the rich story of the explosive possibilities of change in all of us at any time.
Julia Garnet is a teacher. Just retired, she is left a legacy which she uses by leaving her orderly life and going to live – in winter – in an apartment in Venice. Its beauty, its secret corners and treasures, and its people overwhelm a lifetime of reserve and caution. Above all, she’s touched by the all-prevalent spirit of the Angel, Raphael.
Twinned with her journey is that of Tobias. The father, growing old and blind, is determined that his son, accompanied by an appropriate companion, should recover the family debt and allow his father to die in peace. The traveller, masquerading as a merchant – by common legend – is Raphael.
The two stories interweave with parents and landladies, restorers and priests, American tourists and ancient travellers abounding.
The result is an enormously satisfying journey of the spirit – and Julia Garnet is a character to treasure.
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There is something very old-fashioned and reassuring about Sally Vickers' novel Miss Garnet's Angel. The themes, self-discovery and redemption have the air of a bygone age, despite the novel being set in contemporary Venice in a world of holiday apartment lets and Pizza Express-funded restoration works. Julia Garnet is a middle-aged woman who has been practising economies of the spirit for years. Hers is a closed-in world, dusty with Marx's theories and when her friend and flatmate of 30 years dies Julia decides to spend the six winter months in Venice to recuperate from her loss. Miss Garnet is a dignified, brusque heroine and Sally Vickers' prose is likewise unruffled and controlled. Miss Garnet's epiphanies are as quiet and subtle as the "oro pallido" (pale gold) light in early Italian Art because, of course, art plays a part in this Venetian tale of emotional reawakening. Julia is moved by the depiction of Raphael in Guardis Tobias and the Angel: "something rusty and hard shifted deep inside Julia Garnet as she stood absorbing the vivid dewy painting and the unmistakable compassion in the angel's bright glance." She falls in love with Carlo, an art historian with crinkly eyes, white hair and a moustache. There are trials and tribulations to be undergone, Julia must unlearn all her old regimented ways of life, and this brings about heart ache and hurt. However, Vickers handles this with delicate sympathy, giving Julia Garnet a new sensitive view of the world, and the reader a resonant story of transformation. -- Eithne FarryReview:
'Subtle, unexpected and haunting' Penelope Fitzgerald
'Very kind, very funny' John Bayley
'Writes like a haunted angel' The Times
'Rich, complex and haunting… she makes the ancient story as riveting as Miss Garnet's own adventures' Sunday Times
'The sort of novel I really enjoy' John Bayley
Reveals itself as a surprising exploration of the mysteries of imagination and faith' Joanna Trollope, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
'A refreshing, gentle story' Anita Brookner, Spectator Books of the Year
'A subtle, witty tale' John de Falbe, Spectator Books of the Year
'Delightfully affecting' Julia Neuberger, Independent Books of the Year
'Destined for a long life' David Sexton, Evening Standard Books of the Year
'If you like Penelope Fitzgerald or Barbara Pym, try Salley Vickers' Sunday Telegraph
'Original and delightful' Woman's Journal
'It is a triumph' John Julius Norwich
'All lovers of Venice should read this book' The Spectator
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Book Condition: good. 240 Gramm. Bookseller Inventory # M00007123841-G