Angelica (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
The events of Angelica revolve around the title character, the young daughter of Constance and Joseph Barton. The truth of Angelica’s situation is confused by the novel’s narrative structure, which divides the telling of the tale into four different perspectives, each one convinced of its own veracity. The uncertain truth-claims of each narrative provide the delayed full disclosure essential for a suspenseful mystery-thriller; but Arthur Phillips’s skillful division of the story into four narratives also allows the reader occasion for a more thoughtful psychological investigation into character and motive.
The first section of the novel is narrated by Constance Barton. She is viewed as having “jumped the counter” by marrying one of the customers of the stationery shop where she worked as a clerk, but this social triumph has paled in the wake of two dangerous miscarriages and an increasingly distant relationship with her husband. She has managed to carry a third pregnancy to term, resulting in her daughter Angelica, but her doctor has told her that further pregnancies will likely terminate her life. Since Angelica’s birth, Constance has avoided any sexual relations with her husband and has become unusually anxious about the health and welfare of her only child. When Joseph banishes Angelica from the foot of their bed to her own room, Constance experiences both the anxiety of separation from Angelica and the anxiety involved in her...
(The entire section is 1843 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Booklist 103, nos. 9/10 (January 1-15, 2007): 23.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 18, 2007, p. 1.
Library Journal 132, no. 4 (March 1, 2007): 68.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (May 13, 2007): 11.
The New Yorker 83, no. 13 (May 21, 2007): 81.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 7 (February 12, 2007): 63-64.
The Seattle Times, April 6, 2007, p. K8.
The Washington Post, April 1, 2007, p. BW07.
(The entire section is 43 words.)