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Tohle je můj čtenářský deník, který vyzrazuje zápletky a nemluví spisovně. Just sayin.

22. 2. 2011

Angela Carter – Wise Children (Moudré děti)

      Ah, the book that traveled to me across the Atlantic, only to be left lying wet and wretched in the mud by Czech post. Luckily, the adventurous volume has survived in a perfectly readable state with just a few battle scars and has been waiting for me to finish my exams since. That time has come now!

      My strongest impression when closing this book was that it’s an immensely funny book, but makes me very sad. I’ll explain in a minute.
      The story is narrated (written down, in fact) by Dora Chance and describes the life she and her twin sister Nora led as illegitimate daughters of a famous actor. Those two come from a well-known and rich acting family that goes several generations back, but were never recognized as part of that family, which is the tragedy of their lives. They were raised by the landlady of the house where their unknown mother gave birth, dying in the process, and grew up adoring their uncle Perry. An amazing person, Uncle Perry. I want an Uncle Perry too! If you know any, let me know.
      Perry is a twin brother of the girls’ biological father Melchior. I promise I won’t go into family details (much) because it’s very complicated. And there are lots of twins. Five sets of them, in fact. But the thing is, the family relationships are what the book is all about. Yes, it tells Nora and Dora’s story, how they became quite famous as dancers, got to know lots of interesting famous people, it shows us the picture of the amazing life they led, the places they’d seen, the loves they’d had – but no matter what they achieve, they won’t be accepted into the family of serious actors who play Shakespeare.
      All their life, people think Perry is their father, and all their life, they madly love their real father, Melchior, even though he breaks their hearts every time they meet. Until finally, when the girls are 75, they’re invited to the grand official party to celebrate Melchior’s (and Perry’s) 100th birthday. And let me tell you, that single scene, the party, is the most awesome thing ever, worthy of both a Brazilian soap opera and Shakespearian comedy at the same time. At least. It’s the moment when all the protagonists gather to wish the old man happy birthday, with cameras documenting everything. And there, all the family secrets are gloriously revealed; now live and with guaranteed true emotions and tears!
      To give you an idea – the world finds out that Nora and Dora are Melchior’s daughters. For the first time, he tells them he loves them. That Saskia and Imogen aren’t Melchior’s daughters. They’re in fact Perry’s (but the coldhearted twins still won’t love him, not even when he named new species of butterflies after them. Poor guy.) That Perry isn’t dead! That Tiffany isn’t dead! That she won’t marry Tristram. That Saskia poisoned her not-exactly-father’s cake. That Perry has brought two babies (twins, of course, Gareth’s kids, Gareth is Tristram’s missing twin brother, obviously) as a birthday present for Nora. And so on. V. Scandalous and hilarious and touching.
      Oh, and Dora and her beloved Uncle Perry leave the party for a while, go upstairs and make the big chandelier swing and clink and everyone pretends they haven’t noticed anything. Well isn’t that sweet. (Reminder: 75 and 100. In Dora’s words, not bad at all.)
      Like I said, all in all, this is a funny book (and Dora is a great narrator), and I haven’t even talked about the wedding business where the bride dressed as a donkey watches herself get married, and other lovely stuff. But still it’s sad, because at the end, they’re pretty much all happy, Nora and Dora finally got their kiss from Father... only that can’t make up for the whole of their, and other people’s, lives, can it? Suddenly. They probably want it like that, forgive and forget, enjoy what they still can, but that’s even more sad. To me. But I’m 21, stubborn and revengeful and not the least bit a worldly showgirl. So who knows...

1 komentář:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this book, even with its battle scars!

    You raise a really interesting question: whether a happy ending makes up for all that has gone before. "Forgive and forget" doesn't really make up for all those lost years, does it? But maybe it's better than not having a happy ending, since the lost years can't be recovered.