First Book of 2009

Last year finished well. I received the slim and beautiful PITMEN PAINTERS play by Lee Hall thanks to the bounty of DoveGreyReader and delivery skills of Rocky, the ReinCat with his DoveSleigh. If you have no idea what i’m talking about then pop over to the wonderful blog that is DoveGreyReader and, sooner or later, all will be revealed.

I still have TWO CARAVANS secreted in my bag and will be continuing to tow the book along behind me, to and from work until I finish it or one one of my ancient axles rusts away.

Yesterday, New Years Day, I bent down towards the bottom of the shelves just inside what is euphemistically called “the dining room” and ANGELS FLYING SLOWLY  by Jill Roe, caught my eye. angels-flying-slowly1It must be the influence of the Christmas season with its surfeit of angels and no doubt if these heavenly beings indulged as much as humans then they would indeed fly slowly.

I wasn’t sure quite what to make of this book as I read the first chapter. It was extremely easy to read and could sit comfortably alongside Noel Streatfeild’s “A Vicarage Family”. Was this a children’s book? It chronicled the lives of two sisters whose lives are changed when their father leaves the family home and their mother remarries. The Vicarage family do not come from a broken home, the girls are not sent away to a convent and most of the time are not unhappy but the way in which we learn about the daily routine of the children in each book has striking similarities.  Jill Roe’s book is set in the late 1940s and the early 1950s whereas Noel Streatfeild’s account leads us up to the start of the First World War in 1914 but to all intents and purposes there is not much difference in the way the children are expected to behave. One set of children have a father who is a vicar and have the torment, as Victoria, a thinly disguised fictionalisation of Noel, sees it of learning her collect every Sunday. Isobel in “Angels..” has to learn pages of her catechism.

There is an innocence in “Angels ..” that could leave this book firmly with a children’s book As we progress to what cannot be called a climax  there are sexual overtones, perhaps better referred to as undertones, Even though they have been there all along, we together with most of the girls in the convent, have not picked up on them.

The last few pages provide what I can only call an appendage, rather than a twist. I was not convinced and I do wonder if these few words were added at the behest of an editor, publisher or author’s advisor of some sort.

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who has read this or any other of Jill Roe’s novels.

Angels Flying Slowly (1995) A New Leaf (1995) The Topiary Garden (1996) A Well Kept Secret (1998) Eating Grapes Downwards (1999)


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