Tracy Chevalier grew up in Washington DC. In 1994 she graduated from the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia. She lives in London with her husband and young son.
No small part of the appeal of Chevalier's excellent debut, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was its plausibility; readers could readily accept the idea that Vermeer's famous painting might indeed have been created under circumstances similar to Chevalier's imaginative scenario. The same cannot be said about her second novel. While Chevalier again proves adept at evoking a historical era this time, London at the turn of the 19th century she has devised a plot whose contrivances stretch credibility. When Maude Coleman and Lavinia Waterhouse, both five years of age, meet at their families' adjoining cemetery plots on the day after Queen Victoria's death, the friendship that results between sensitive, serious-minded Maude and narcissistic, melodramatic Livy is not unlikely, despite the difference in social classes. But the continuing presence in their lives of a young gravedigger, Simon Field, is. Far too cheeky for a boy of his age and class, Simon plays an important part in the troubles that will overtake the two families. Other characters are gifted with insights inappropriate to their age or station in life. Yet Chevalier again proves herself an astute observer of a social era, especially in her portrayal of the lingering sentimentality, prejudices and early stirrings of social change of the Victorian age. When Maude's mother, Kitty, becomes obsessively involved with the emerging suffragette movement, the plot gathers momentum. While it's obvious that tragedy is brewing, Chevalier shows imaginative skill in two neatly accomplished surprises, and the denouement packs an emotional wallop. While not as accomplished a work as Girl, the ironies inherent in the dramatic unfolding of two families' lives ultimately endow this novel with an impressive moral vision. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Oct. 15) Forecast: The popularity of Girl with a Pearl Earring among reading groups and its record as a bestseller will provide a ready audience for Chevalier's new effort. The perennial appeal of books set in post-Victorian England should be another asset. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Praise for Girl With a Pearl Earring: 'A jewel of a novel' Time 'This novel will win prizes' The Times 'A wonderful novel, a truly magical experience' The Guardian 'A vibrant, sumptuous novel...triumphant...a beautifully written tale that mirrors the elegance of the painting that inspired it.' Wall Street Journal
Chevalier follows up her best-selling Girl with a Pearl Earring with the story of two girls from different backgrounds who might never have met and become friends had their families not visited adjoining gravesites in 1901 London. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
January 1901. Queen Victoria is one day dead; two families visit their respective family graves to mourn, and two girls meet, become friends, and bring their relatives together in unexpected ways. As in her first novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier excels at capturing subtle social nuances and setting historical scenes. Key among the characters who narrate parts of the story is beautiful and frustrated Kitty Coleman, who, as the times shift from Victorian to modern, embraces the change with a bid for personal freedom. Her secrets and lies have disastrous consequences. The novel is infused with enriching details the proper fabric for mourning handkerchiefs, how to host an "at home" (an open house), and the route the suffragettes took on their march to Hyde Park. Like an E.M. Forster novel filtered through a modern sensibility, Falling Angels takes us back to the early 20th century and keeps us there, waiting to see what Kitty and her crowd will do next. Boldly plotted and beautifully written, this impressive novel is highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Yvette W. Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.