Julia Garnet goes to live in Venice. Its beauty overwhelms a lifetime of reserve and caution. Above all, she's touched by the spirit of the angel, Raphael. Twinned with her journey is that of Tobias, who is determined that his son should recover the family debt and allow his father to die in peace.
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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
'Rich, complex and haunting…she makes the ancient story as riveting as Miss Garnet's own adventures.' Sunday Times
Reveals itself as a surprising exploration of the mysteries of imagination and faith.' Joanna Trollope, Daily Telegraph, Book of the Year
'A subtle, witty tale.' John de Falbe, Spectator
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