Author Chevalier, whose marvelous Girl With A Pearl Earring was a best-seller, has created another world in which a woman's narrow life and limited options drive her to incautious action. The story begins the day of Queen Victoria's death in 1901, in London.
Kitty Coleman, pretty
but stifled, plays at being a worldly woman who welcomes lovers into
her bed (with her husband's connivance), but yearns for more than the
idleness and emptiness of her life. Her daughter Maude, homely and
precocious; Maude's new friend Lavinia Waterhouse, self-absorbed,
selfish and vicious; Simon Field, a young gravedigger, form an odd
friendship based on escapades in the graveyard. Told from the viewpoint
of all the major characters, the story unfolds with an elegant
remorselessness that kept me turning pages until the last word. In my
book (pun? nah.), this is a solid 5. Chevalier writes marvelous, one-of-a-kind books that are impossible to resist.