I doesn't take more than one book (maybe even one short story) by Elizabeth Taylor (and I know you all already know I mean the author not the actress) to become hooked. Her prose is in my opinion gorgeous. Kingsley Amis called her "one of the best English novelists born in this century". Let me direct you to this article that appeared in The Atlantic if you still need convincing. My introduction to her was The Sleeping Beauty with Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont as a follow up. It's been too long since I've picked up any of her other books, so Angel is now gracing my night stand.
I have a feeling Angel is going to be an interesting character. At fifteen she becomes (from the book blurb) a fêted author. But she doesn't like reading and she has "not a seed of irony or a grain of humour in her soul." Here's a little taste of Taylor's writing in Angel.
" 'into the vast vacuity of the empyrean,' " Miss Dawson read.
"And can you tell me what 'empyrean' means?
"It means," Angel said. Her tongue moistened her lips. She glanced out of the classroom window at the sky beyond the bare trees. "It means 'the highest heavens'."
"Yes, the sky," Miss Dawson said suspiciously. She handed the exercise-book to Angel, feeling baffled. The girl had a great reputation as a liar and when this strange essay had been handed in--"A Storm at Sea"--Miss Dawson had gone through it in a state of alarm, fearful lest she had read it before or ought to have read it before. She had spent an agitated evening scanning Pater and Ruskin and others. Though disdaining such ornamental prose, such crescendos and alliterations, before she would say that the piece was vulgarly over-written she hoped to find out who had written it.
When I first read Elizabeth Taylor I immediately wanted to read everything she had written and set out to buy all the books I could find by her. Perhaps this will be the year I start to really read them in earnest (switching between Elizabeth and Molly Keane). And I have Nicola Beauman's biography of her to read as well. It always feels good to be excited about what you're reading and that's how I'm feeling about this book.