Book Notes: Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel

Friends, rejoice at these good tidings: I have discovered a wonderful and unfairly forgotten author. I came across Elizabeth Taylor’s name (no relation to the actress) in Rafael Chirbes’s diaries. Chirbes speaks of Taylor with such admiration that I had to check her out. Of course, it turned out that Chirbes was absolutely right. Taylor’s writing is superb. Every word in her novel Angel is absolutely delicious.

Angel Deverell, the protagonist of the novel, is a writer of vulgar, verbose, yet very popular novels. Taylor’s own extremely restrained and tasteful writing style offers a hilarious contrast with Angel’s pompous scribblings. A lot more interesting than Angel’s books is her personality. She’s the most absurd, stubborn, and clueless person in existence. The novel traces Angel’s life from adolescence to old age, and in spite of the woman’s narcissism and absurdity, it’s hard not to get attached to her.

Taylor is a mid-twentieth-century British writer. It’s extraordinary that somebody this talented was mostly forgotten. If you have no time, I recommend reading at least a couple of random pages by her. Every word she uses is so precise, so needed that reading becomes pure joy.

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