Book 37 in Cannonball Read
Angela Carter’s novels and short stories are passionately loved by those who many who have read them. Her characters are theatrical, usually in both profession and personality, and her dry, witty writing style describes wild, carnival-like environments with an almost surreal bent.
Wise Children was the last novel Carter wrote before her death in 1992. It tells the story of Dora and Nora, twin sisters who have worked as a song and dance partnership for their entire lives. Their father, Melchior Hazzard, was a famous stage actor who never acknowledged them as his own; instead, his twin brother Peregrine acted as a father figure. The book takes place on Nora and Dora’s 75th birthday, and goes back to tell the story of their life.
Wise Children is a slow, strange read, but it got its hooks into me by about halfway through. The world Carter creates - where vigorous sex between a 75- and a 100-year old shakes the ceiling so hard that the partygoers below are splattered with candlewax from the chandelier - is strange without being grotesque, her characters odd and sometimes cruel while remaining empathetic. I am definitely a convert to Carter’s works after experiencing Wise Children.