Have you ever heard of Pierre Andrézel? If you've answered no (and that's how I would have answered), you might be surprised at who he actually is. Pierre Andrézel is the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) best known for her memoir Out of Africa (own it, haven't yet read it . . . maybe will do so this year . . . maybe sooner than later). I'm afraid if I read Out of Africa now it will just start a new reading journey to Africa (and then I'll need to read/reread Elspeth Huxley, Beryl Markham, Alexandra Fuller . . . the list goes on), which sounds very inviting, but I need to focus on a few other reading projects that I've been planning.
The Angelic Avengers wasn't a book I came across by happenstance while browsing the stacks. I was searching for a book that happened to be one of those lovely Modern Penguin Classics (you know with the cool silver accented covers) and I started looking at all the tempting titles they have in the series and came across this one. Interesting title and even more interesting cover illustration. Read a bit more about it, curiosity piqued, checked library catalog online, went to the third floor of my library and grabbed it off the shelf and voilá I have my latest lost in the stack book. I'd not heard of this particular book by Dinesen, though I myself own a number of her other books, so maybe you hadn't either?
The novel The Angelic Avengers is her only full length novel which she published in 1944 (the copy I have was published in 1947). This story is supposed to be an allegory of Nazism. I had no idea that Dinesen wrote her books in English and then they were translated into her native Danish. The 1967 edition has a suitably pulpy looking cover on it and gives the description of the book as:
"A spellbinding story of fascinating romance, chilling mystery and perilous adventure that sets two friendless young women in a house of unspeakable evil. Written by the greatest Gothic novelist of our time this is a 'novel of superlatively fine literary quality'."
Gothic adventure stories must have been the rage in the 1960s as there seem to be no end to them. The proper book description is given as:
"Lucan has been orphaned and Zosine has been deserted, and London is a hostile place for two young girls without a home. Bound together by poverty, grief and their shared years at school, they set out to make a future for themselves in new surroundings. They are adopted by the austere, puritanical Reverend Pennhallow and his wife, and in their large, gloomy house they become immersed in study. But, after a chain of disturbing events, it does not take long before they realize that the cleric and his wife are not all they seem to be."
I like the sound of this story. At the moment I have an abundance of really good books started so I had better not crack it open just yet to read, but it has definitely been added to my 'to read list' (what's one more book?). A temptation for all of us--here's how the book begins:
"A young girl, whose name was Lucan Bellenden, on a spring evening sat deep in thought by the window of a fine big English country house. After the fashion of the 1840s, her rich golden hair was hanging down her neck and shoulders in long ringlets. She had on a plain, black frock that fitted tightly round her delicate bosom and arms, but was amply folded and draped below the slim waist. From time to time she gently pressed or wrung her fingers between these black folds; this was her only movement."