Stumbling across a well-thumbed copy of Angela Carter’s 1991 novel, Wise Children, in a secondhand bookshop, I was heartened – and a little saddened – to notice that I was not alone in choosing this title as a book to share. For written inside this particular paperback was the following inscription:
You often have to travel far from the self in order to truly find yourself. Your journey to these alien lands is underway now. So go out there searching for the truth and returned enriched.
You have an immense amount of talent; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise,
One can’t help feeling for poor Phil. Do I detect romantic overtones? Or something more paternal? Perhaps a parting of the ways? (Certainly, at least, a parting of the ways for Bridget and this copy of Wise Children.) Whatever the true story behind Phil’s message to Bridget may be, I am not surprised that the novel inspired such an earnest and heartfelt inscription, because Wise Children – Carter’s last and greatest novel – is a book I have forced upon friends and family members over the years and never fail to recommend if asked. I return to it every year or so, always to find myself newly impressed by its brilliance. A fictionalised showbiz memoir charting the slings and arrows inflicted on two very different branches of a once-great theatrical dynasty in London (the legitimate Hazards and the illegitimate Chances), there is a passage early on which, for me, encapsulates the enduring appeal of this novel. (read the full review in the Guardian)