Angelica: A Novel by Arthur Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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What I like most about Arthur Phillips' books is his use of the unreliable narrator. In Angelica, this device works very well because it keeps the momentum going throughout the entire book. I also appreciate Phillips' style of writing. Since Angelica takes place during Victorian times, it is especially appropriate that the language Phillips uses matches the era. There is never any doubt what the subject of this novel is, yet Phillips manages to describe the behavior of his characters without ever resorting to graphic or needlessly titillating passages.
Angelica is described as a ghost story, and for the most part that's what it is. However, it's also a disturbing look at what it was like to be a woman during the Victorian era. In the interview at the end of the book, Phillips was asked if this is a feminist novel. He says that was not his intent when he wrote the book. I did not read Angelica with any particular political agenda in mind, but it is quite evident that Phillips knew his subject very well, and it is hard not to draw at least some reference to how women were treated and how they might have responded both mentally and physically during a time when women's voices were not heard.