Monday, May 07, 2012

Book Review: Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, edited by Angela Carter

I've been really busy since the start of February and the result is that I've gotten ten books behind in my reviewing. But today, this seems like serendipity rather than poor time management as I'm reviewing Wayward Girls and Wicked Women on its editor's birthday (she would have been 72!).

It's an anthology of short stories, all about women and girls who don't behave in the way that they're supposed to. Some of them just bend the rules of femininity, tiptoeing around scandal, others wander down morally grey paths, a few are borderline evil, but most of them show the irony of the title - the behaviour of their characters may be regarded as wayward or wicked, but they are just trying to live their lives. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every story in this collection, and all of them made me think. Some of them are still regularly popping into my mind two months later.

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women features tales of varied lengths and a couple of the longest, Colette's 'The Rainy Moon' and Vernon Lee's 'Oke of Okehurst' did drag a bit, though they are also two of the most memorable and interesting stories.

I also really liked 'Violet' by Frances Towers, 'The Long Trial' by Andrée Chedid, and 'The Earth' by Djuna Barnes. I'd read Angela Carter's own contribution, 'The Loves of Lady Purple' before, as it also appears in one of her own collections, Fireworks, and of course in the collected short stories volume Burning Your Boats (I own both), but it's a story with wonderful atmosphere and I really liked the way that the author summarised it when giving an overview of the stories in her introduction to the anthology.

My copy is one of the old green covered editions which is cool in a retro way, but I really like the design of the reissue, both in hardback and paperback.

A much better review than mine

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