Finding angels

I thoroughly enjoyed Salley Vickers' novel Miss Garnet's angel. When repressed Julia Garnet's companion dies, something of Harriet's slightly more rebellious spirit seems to enter her, spurring her to go on a trip to Venice. Once there Miss Garnet is overcome by the beauty of that most atmospheric of cities, charmed by the children (coming from a lifetime of teaching, she's not usually that partial to children!), and then falls in love.

As Julia starts to discover herself, she makes new friends, and becomes engrossed in the restoration of a little known chapel, which features paintings of the story of Tobias and the Angel Raphael, an odd mystical tale from the Apocrypha, with its roots in Zoroastrianism. Her modern life in Venice becomes a slanted mirror of the Tobias tale, with some of her new friends paralleling the lives of characters from the Tobias story.

Loving the natty dress of Antonio del Pollaiolo's Tobias and the Angel
It's a charming tale; funny, whimsical, at times mysterious, with a real heart to it. Its message that it's never too late to change or to embrace new experiences is relevant for anyone. Not least for those of us who are celebrating a "big" birthday this year. And of course Miss Garnet's Angel includes a dog. How could I not enjoy it?

A great novel for fans of Barbara Pym, an enchanting tale, and one of the best fictional evocations of Venice I've ever read. Absolutely charming.


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