by Elizabeth Taylor, introduction by Hilary Mantel
Perhaps every novelist harbors a monster at heart, an irrepressible and utterly irresponsible fantasist, not to mention a born and ingenious liar, without which all her art would go for naught. Angel, at any rate, is the story of such a monster. Angelica Deverell lives above her diligent, drab mother's grocery shop in a dreary turn-of-the-century English neighborhood, but spends her days dreaming of handsome Paradise House, where her aunt is enthroned as a maid. But in Angel's imagination, she is the mistress of the house, a realm of lavish opulence, of evening gowns and peacocks. Then she begins to write popular novels, and this fantasy becomes her life. And now that she has tasted success, Angel has no intention of letting anyone stand in her way—except, perhaps, herself.
With its monstrous romantic-novelist heroine Angelica Deverell, it’s a study of extravagant self-deception that’s both achingly funny and heart-wrenchingly sad.
Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person’s dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail—the perfect toast to the quiet horror of domestic life. —Valerie Martin
Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor’s novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I’ve returned to her too—in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it. —Sarah Waters
Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning point in one’s own experience. —Elizabeth Bowen
One of the most underrated novelists of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Taylor writes with a wonderful precision and grace. Her world is totally absorbing. —Antonia Fraser