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One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother's wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she has never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. And brooding Unlce Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his ...
One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother's wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she has never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. And brooding Unlce Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his toyshop. This classic gothic novel established Angela Carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative work.
Dora and Nora Chance are a famous song-and-dance team of the British music halls. Billed as The Lucky Chances, the sisters are the illegitimate and unacknowledged daughters of Sir Melchoir Hazard, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day. At once ribald and sentimental, glittery and tender, this rambunctious family saga is Angela Carter at her bewitching best.
Carter's impertinent revisions of cherished conventions and beloved traditional stories do not elicit mild or neutral reactions from readers. As her friend Salman Rushdie suggests in his warm introduction to this rich collection of 42 stories (spanning the years 196293), one is either pleasurably seduced by her languorous imagery and overripe vocabulary, or made slightly ill by her intemperate romantic sensuality: you love her or you hate her. Even those attuned to Carter's perfervid imagination will have to pick and choose their way through a minefield of knotty prose and naughtier conceits, from several decidedly precious early tales through the contents of her acclaimed story volumes (such as The Bloody Chamber and Saints and Strangers) to a final three uncollected pieces that are even more hothouse-baroque than her usual work. If you can bypass the gamy contes cruels that show Carter at her worst, there's much to enjoy in her wry feminist response to the smug mandates of sexism, racism . . . come to think of it, most -isms. "The Bloody Chamber" amusingly reinvents the Bluebeard legend, featuring a virginal bride reluctant to become yet another passive victim; "The Fall River Axe Murders" examines Lizzie Borden from a sardonic female perspective; "Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream" retells Shakespeare's comedy from the viewpoint of the changeling child for whom fairy rulers Oberon and Titania contend. And in the amazing "Our Lady of the Massacre," Carter employs the familiar narrative of (American) Indian captivity to create in a mere 14 pages a brilliantly compact near-novella.
A book of wonders, then, even if too cloying for some tastes—and a welcome occasion for reassessing the work of one of the most unusual writers of recent emergence.
|The Man Who Loved a Double Bass||3|
|A Very, Very Great Lady and Her Son at Home||11|
|A Victorian Fable (with Glossary)||16|
|A Souvenir of Japan||27|
|The Executioner's Beautiful Daughter||35|
|The Loves of Lady Purple||41|
|The Smile of Winter||52|
|Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest||58|
|Flesh and the Mirror||68|
|Elegy for a Freelance||96|
|The Bloody Chamber||111|
|The Courtship of Mr Lyon||144|
|The Tiger's Bride||154|
|The Snow Child||193|
|The Lady of the House of Love||195|
|The Company of Wolves||212|
|Our Lady of the Massacre||248|
|The Cabinet of Edgar Allan Poe||262|
|Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream||273|
|Peter and the Wolf||284|
|The Kitchen Child||292|
|The Fall River Axe Murders||300|
|John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore||332|
|Gun for the Devil||349|
|The Merchant of Shadows||363|
|The Ghost Ships||376|
|Ashputtle or The Mother's Ghost||390|
|Alice in Prague or The Curious Room||397|
|Impressions: The Wrightsman Magdalene||409|
|The Scarlet House||417|
|The Snow Pavilion||429|
|The Quilt Maker||444|
|Appendix: Afterword to Fireworks||459|