I’ve been getting on well with my Month of Rereading, as I discovered to my joy that I had actually read this month’s Elizabeth Taylor before. Hooray! I’m reviewing my Month of Rereading books in pairs, as I’m trying to put down some stuff about the actual rereading aspect as well as my review, so they’re a little bit longer than usual.

I’m currently reading the E.M. Delafield and the Henry James, so watch out for those reviews next!

Elizabeth Taylor – “Angel”

(30 June 2012)

I had to buy this one new (well, from Green Metropolis, so new to me) as I had managed not to acquire my own copy over the years. So I didn’t think it was a reread, until I came to a bit about the somewhat monstrous teenage Angel insisting on writing in hardback exercise books with marbled covers and having a tortoiseshell comb, at which I had a flashback to my mid teens and procurement of the same! So this must have been an early Virago read for me, under the influence of my neighbour who introduced me to Virago and Taylor.

A marvellous portrayal of a bad novelist – a monster, but portrayed humanely and with understanding. As the introduction says, is this a portrayal of the monster that lies within all writers? The tiny details are amazing and hilarious, as Taylor really goes to town and appears to be enjoying herself greatly: of particular note was Angel with a dress cut so low that you could see the top rows of her ribs; sitting up in bed with her apricot armpits; and walking across her acres accompanied by a troupe of cats. And the creative process is minutely described, even if what she is writing is more akin to the works of Marie Corelli, on whom she is based (is she an early E.L. James, of “Fifty Shades of Grey” fame, I wonder!) than to the works of Taylor herself. The pathos, of course, comes in, too, particularly in relation to her publisher, although there are some delightful scenes with the publisher, too.

On rereading: I didn’t remember much of the plot, but did remember the atmosphere of the book – and obviously admired Angel more in my own teens than I do now!

Georgette Heyer – “These Old Shades”

(12 Dec 2011 – leaving gift from Heather)

One that I didn’t remember all that well, but then the plots of the Heyer Regency Romances are fairly similar in many respects. Delicious as ever, with cross-dressing and people recognised by their hair galore – you know how it’s going to come out, but it’s great fun getting there. And even though she is ruffled and called “Infant” a great deal by a man twice her age, we have a lovely feisty heroine who is plucked from obscurity and poverty at the whim of an English Duke and set on a path to fame and fortune, as well as great supporting characters who are just as lively and beautifully drawn. Beautifully drawn, too, are the period details of dress and personalities, including the French King himself: reading this, you’re in for a well-researched extravaganza of quality escapism.

On rereading: I know jolly well that I read all of Heyer in lovely hardbacks with mint green covers from my school and village library in my early to mid teens (did everybody have a wild urge to read SETS of books then? I worked my way through all the Heyers, all the Agatha Christies, all the James Bond books, all the Tanith Lees …) and so even if I didn’t remember the details of the plot, it was a comfortable book to sink back into.