FALLING ANGELS, by Tracy Chevalier

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.