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  • Written by Arthur Phillips
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A Novel

Written by Arthur PhillipsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Arthur Phillips

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On Sale: April 03, 2007
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-58836-601-6
Published by : Random House Random House Group
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from Arthur Phillips's The Tragedy of Arthur, The Song Is You, Prague, and The Egyptologist.

From the bestselling author of The Egyptologist and Prague comes an even more accomplished and entirely surprising new novel. Angelica is a spellbinding Victorian ghost story, an intriguing literary and psychological puzzle, and a meditation on marriage, childhood, memory, and fear.

The novel opens in London, in the 1880s, with the Barton household on the brink of collapse. Mother, father, and daughter provoke one another, consciously and unconsciously, and a horrifying crisis is triggered. As the family’s tragedy is told several times from different perspectives, events are recast and sympathies shift.
In the dark of night, a chilling sexual spectre is making its way through the house, hovering over the sleeping girl and terrorizing her fragile mother. Are these visions real, or is there something more sinister, and more human, to fear? A spiritualist is summoned to cleanse the place of its terrors, but with her arrival the complexities of motive and desire only multiply. The mother’s failing health and the father’s many secrets fuel the growing conflicts, while the daughter flirts dangerously with truth and fantasy.

While Angelica is reminiscent of such classic horror tales as The Turn of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House, it is also a thoroughly modern exploration of identity, reality, and love. Set at the dawn of psychoanalysis and the peak of spiritualism’s acceptance, Angelica is also an evocative historical novel that explores the timeless human hunger for certainty.

Angelica, Arthur Phillip's spellbinding third book, cements this young novelist's reputation as one of the best writers in America, a storyteller who combines Nabokovian wit and subtlety with a narrative urgency that rivals Stephen King"  –Washington Post

Excerpt

I

I suppose my prescribed busywork should begin as a ghost story, since that was surely Constance’s experience of these events. I fear, however, that the term arouses unreasonable expectations in you. I scarcely expect to frighten you of all people, even if you should read this by snickering candle and creaking floorboards. Or with me lying at your feet.

So. A ghost story! The scene opens in unthreatening daylight, the morning Joseph cast the child out of their bedroom. The horror tales Constance kept at her bedside always opened peacefully, and so shall hers:

The burst of morning sunlight startled the golden dust off the enfolded crimson drapery and drew fine black veins at the edges of the walnut-brown sill. The casement wants repainting, she thought. The distant irregular trills of Angelica’s uncertain fingers stumbling across the piano keys downstairs, the floury aroma of the first loaves rising from the kitchen: from within this thick foliage of domestic safety his coiled rage found her unprepared.

“I have suffered this insult too long,” he said. “I cannot countenance a single night more of this—this reversal of nature. You encourage this upending of my authority. You delight in it,” he accused. “It ends now. Angelica has a bedroom and shall sleep in it. Am I understood? You have made us ridiculous. Are you blind to this? Answer me. Answer!”

“If she should, my dear, after all, call out for me in the night?”

“Then go to her or not. The question is of no significance to me, and I strongly doubt that it is of any to her.” Joseph pointed at the small bed, unobtrusive at the foot of their own, as if noticing it for the first time, as if its very existence justified his cruelty. The sight of it refreshed his anger, and he kicked it, pleased to see his boot spoil the bedding. He had calculated the gesture to affect Constance, and she retreated. “Look at me when I am speaking. Would you have us live as a band of Gypsies?” He was shouting now, though she had not contradicted him, had never once in seven years contemplated such rebellion. “Or are you no longer capable of even a single act of obedience? Is that, then, where we have arrived? Move her before I return. Not a word more.”

Constance Barton held her tongue before her husband’s hectoring. In his imperial mood, when he imagined himself most English even as he strutted like an Italian bravo, reason could sustain no hope of gaining a foothold. “For how long would you have delayed this, if I did not at last relieve you of the womanly decision?” Against the acquiescence of her silence still he raved, intending to lecture her until she pronounced him wise.

But Constance would have been seeing farther than he was: even if Joseph could deceive himself that he was merely moving a child’s bed, she knew better. He was blind (or would feign blindness) to the obvious consequences of his decision, and Constance would pay for his intemperance. If he could only be coaxed into waiting a bit longer, their trouble would pass entirely of its own accord. Time would establish a different, cooler sympathy between them. Such was the fate of all husbands and wives. True, Constance’s weakened condition (and Angelica’s) had demanded that she and Joseph adapt themselves more hurriedly than most, and she was sorry for him in this. She always intended that Angelica would be exiled downstairs, of course, but later, when she no longer required the child’s protective presence. They were not distant from that safer shore.

But Joseph would not defer. “You have allowed far too much to elude you.” He buttoned his collar. “The child is spoiling. I have allowed you too much rein.”

Only with the front door’s guarantee that he had departed for his work did Constance descend to the kitchen and, betraying none of her pain at the instruction, asked Nora to prepare the nursery for Angelica, to call in a man to dismantle the child’s outgrown bed and haul the blue silk Edwards chair up from the parlor to her new bedside. “For when I read to her,” Constance added and fled the Irish girl’s mute examination of her.

“Watch, Con—she will celebrate the change,” Joseph had promised before departing, either failed kindness or precise cruelty (the child celebrating a separation from her mother). Constance ran her fingers over Angelica’s clothing, which hung lightly in her parents’ wardrobe. Her playthings occupied such a paltry share of the room’s space, and yet he had commanded, “All of this. All of it. Not one piece when I return.” Constance transmitted these excessive orders to Nora, as she could not bear to execute them herself.

She escaped with Angelica, found excuses to stay away from the disruption until late in the afternoon. She brought her weekly gifts of money, food, and conversation to the widow Moore but failed to drown her worries in the old woman’s routine, grateful tears. She dallied at market, at the tea shop, in the park, watching Angelica play. When they at last returned, as the long-threatened rain broke and fell in warm sheets, she busied herself downstairs, never looking in the direction of the staircase but instead correcting Nora’s work, reminding her to air out the closets, inspecting the kitchen. She poked the bread, criticized the slipshod stocking of the pantry, then left Nora in mid-scold to place Angelica at the piano to practice “The Wicked Child and the Gentle.” She sat across the room and folded the napkins herself. “Which child are you, my love?” she murmured, but found only sadness in the practiced reply: “The gentle, Mamma.”

As the girl’s playing broke and reassembled itself, Constance finally forced herself up to the second floor and walked back and forth before the closed door of Angelica’s new home. No great shock greeted her inside. In truth, the room’s transformation hardly registered, for it had sat six years now in disappointed expectation. Six years earlier, with his new wife seven months expectant, Joseph had without apparent resentment dismantled his beloved home laboratory to make space for a nursery. But God demanded of Constance three efforts before a baby survived to occupy the room. Even then it remained empty, for in the early weeks of Angelica’s life, mother and daughter both ailed, and it was far wiser that the newborn should sleep beside her sleepless mother.

In the months that followed, Constance’s childbed fever and Angelica’s infant maladies ebbed and flowed in opposition, as if between the two linked souls there were only health enough for one, so that a year had passed without it ever being advisable to send the child downstairs to the nursery. Even when Angelica’s health restored itself, Dr. Willette had been particularly insistent on the other, more sensitive issue, and so—Constance’s solution—it seemed simplest and surest to keep Angelica tentatively asleep within earshot.

Nora had placed the chair beside the bed. She was powerful, the Irish girl, more brawn than fat to have hoisted it by herself. She had arranged Angelica’s clothing in the child-sized cherry-wood wardrobe. Bleak, this new enclosure to which Angelica had been sentenced. The bed was too large; Angelica would feel lost in it. The window was loose in its setting, and the noise of the street would surely prevent her sleeping. The bedclothes were tired and dingy in the rain- gray light, books and dolls cheerless in their new places. No wonder he had kept his laboratory here; it was by any standard a dark, nasty room, fit only for the stink and scrape of science. The Princess Elizabeth reclined in a favored position atop the pillows, her legs crossed at the ankle; of course Nora knew Angelica’s favorite doll and would make just such a display of her affection for the girl.

The blue chair was too far from the bed. Constance pressed her back against it until it clattered a few inches forward. She sat again, smoothed her dress, then rose and straightened the Princess Elizabeth’s legs into a more natural position. She had raised her voice often at Angelica during their day out, barked sharp commands (just as Joseph had done to her) when kindness would have served better. The day she was destined to lose a piece of her child, the day she wished to hold her ever closer and unchanging—that very day, how easily Angelica had irritated her.

This shift of Angelica’s residence—this cataclysmic shift of everything—coming so soon after her fourth birthday, likely marked the birth of the girl’s earliest lasting memories. All that had come before—the embraces, sacrifices, moments of slow-blinking contentment, the defense of her from some icy cruelty of Joseph’s— none of this would survive in the child as conscious recollection. What was the point of those forgotten years, all the unrecorded kindness? As if life were the telling of a story whose middle and end were incomprehensible without a clearly recalled beginning, or as if the child were ungrateful, culpable for its willful forgetfulness of all the generosity and love shown to it over four years of life, eight months of carrying her, all the agony of the years before.

This, today, marked the moment Angelica’s relations with the world changed. She would collect her own history now, would gather from the seeds around her the means to cultivate a garden: these panes of bubbled glass would be her “childhood bedroom window,” as Constance’s own, she recalled now, had been a circle of colored glass, sliced by wooden dividers into eight wedges like a tart. This would be the scrap of blanket, the texture of which would calibrate Angelica’s notion of “soft” for the rest of her life. Her father’s step on the stair. His scent. How she would comfort herself in moments of fear.

A stuttered song usurped unfinished scales, but then it, too, stopped short, abandoned in the midst of its second repetition. The unresolved harmony made Constance shudder. A moment later, she heard Angelica’s light step on the stair. The girl ran into her new room and leapt upon the bed, swept her doll into her arms. “So here is where the princess secluded herself,” she said. “We searched high and low for Your Highness.” She ceremoniously touched each of the bed’s dark posts in turn, then examined the room from ceiling to floor, playing a prim courtier. She visibly struggled to ask a question, moved her lips silently as she selected her words. Constance could almost read her daughter’s thoughts, and at length Angelica said, “Nora says I shall sleep here now.”

Constance held her child tightly to her. “I am very sorry, my love.”

“Why sorry? Must the princess stay up with you and Papa?”

“Of course not. You are her lady-in-waiting. She would be lost upstairs.”

“Here she shall be free of royal worries, for a spell”: Angelica unknowingly quoted a storybook. She crossed to the tiny dressing table, dragged its small chair over her mother’s protests, stood upon it to peer out the front window. “I can see the road.” She stood on her toes at the very edge of the chair’s scarlet seat, pressed her hands and nose against the window’s loose pane.

“Please be careful, my love. You must not do that.”

“But I can see the road. That’s a chestnut mare.”

“Come to me, please, for a moment. You must promise me that if you need me, you will not hesitate to call or even come and rouse me. I will never be angry if you need me. It shall be just like it was, truly. Sit upon my lap. Yes, the princess too. Now tell, are you pleased with these arrangements your father has dictated for us or no?”

“Oh, yes. He is kind. Is this a tower, because of the window?”

“Not a tower, no. If it is a tower you desire, you slept in a higher point with us, upstairs. It is I, up in the tower.”

“But you have no tower window looking at the horses far below, so this is the tower.” So the child was happy.

“Will you not be frightened to be alone when you sleep?”

“Oh, Mamma, yes! I will! It’s very frightening,” and her face reflected the thought of her dark night ahead, but then brightened at once. “But I will be brave as the shepherdess. ‘When the woods crow dark / and by faint stars impale / God’s light leave its mark / then does her heart wail / God’s light leave its mark. . . . When the woods crow dark . . .’ ”

Constance smoothed the girl’s hair, touched the small soft cheeks, brought the round face close. “ ‘When the woods grow dark / and by faint stars and pale / does God’s light leave its mark / then does her heart quail. But . . .’ ”

“‘But her faith’s like a lamp,’” Angelica interrupted proudly, but then stumbled again at once. “ ‘And God . . . God slow, God sl . . .’ I can’t recall.”

“‘And God’s love is brighter . . . still . . . than . . . ,’” her mother prompted.

“Shall I see a moon through the tower window?”



II

Angelica’s excitement was unmistakable as night approached.

Twice she looked closely at Constance and said with great seriousness, “I am frightened to be alone tonight, Mamma.” But Constance did not believe her. Angelica claimed to be afraid only because she could sense—for reasons beyond her understanding—that her mother wished she were frightened. Her claim of fear was an unwanted gift—a child’s scribbled drawing—offered in perceptive love.

Still, those transparent lies were the exception to her candid anticipation. Constance washed her, and Angelica spoke of the princess’s adventures alone in her tower. Constance brushed her hair while Angelica brushed the princess’s, and Angelica asked if she could please go to bed yet. Constance read to her from the blue chair, and in mid-sentence Angelica uncharacteristically claimed fatigue, then sweetly refused her mother’s offer to sit with her until she fell asleep.

“Should I leave the door open, my love?”

“No, thank you, Mamma. The princess desires her solitudary.”

Constance likely waited in the narrow hall, tidied the linens in the armoire, straightened paintings, lowered lamps, but heard no protest, only muttering court intrigue until that, too, faded.

Downstairs Joseph had still not returned. “Is all well in the child’s bedroom, madam?” the maid asked.

“In the nursery, Nora. Yes, thank you.”

When Joseph did arrive, he did not inquire but assumed his dictates had been smoothly instituted. He spoke of his day and did not mention Angelica at all, did not even—as they extinguished the downstairs gas and rose to the third story—stop on the second to look upon his child in her new situation. His cold triumph was understood. “Angelica resisted the new arrangements,” Constance allowed herself in mild rebellion.

He showed no concern, seemed even to take a certain pleasure in this report or, at least, in Constance carrying out his will despite resistance. She was curious if any description would inspire him even to mere sympathy, let alone a retraction of the deadly orders. Besides, the child’s actual satisfaction tonight was surely temporary, and Constance wondered what sort of response he would offer when the child’s courage finally broke, and so she said, “Angelica wept herself to sleep, so isolated she feels.”


From the Hardcover edition.
Arthur Phillips|Author Q&A

About Arthur Phillips

Arthur Phillips - Angelica

Photo © Jan Phillips

Arthur Phillips is the internationally bestselling author of Angelica, The Egyptologist, and Prague, which was a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. He lives in New York with his wife and two sons.

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Arthur Phillips

Random House Reader’s Circle: Angelica is to some degree about a claustrophobic Victorian household in which the wife/mother feels trapped and powerless. Would you object if a reader thought of it as a feminist novel? Do you think it is, and did you mean it to be?

Arthur Phillips: I wouldn’t object to that on political grounds, only on aesthetic ones. The term “feminist novel” implies a writer with a point to make, and I honestly didn’t start with one in mind, and I don’t think I finished with one on display. Unlike a writer like me, though, a character does have points to make and perspectives that matter. Constance lives in a world in which she does feel trapped and powerless, and her feelings should get through. I am very interested in portraying how she felt and what she did as a result. But I hypothesize that a truly feminist novel would take that one character’s experience as proof or indictment of the society the character lived in, would use her to make a point about the world. I think that I can say I wrote the novel as a feminist kind of guy without ever meaning to write a feminist novel. I have no point to make about Victorian life, or about women’s lot either then or now. Now, all that hemming and hawing aside, if a reader takes Constance’s plight as proof or indictment of something anyhow, then my intentions are beside the point; the novel then is a feminist novel and my opinion is moot.

RHRC: Mrs. Montague, who tries to help purge the Barton house of the spectre that Constance believes is haunting it, is both a con woman and a sincere spiritualist–or so it appears. How aware is she of this duality–that is, if she were to write a brief description of herself, what do you think she would say?

AP: I think the description of her at the start of Part Two, although written by Angelica Barton in later life, would probably not have offended Anne Montague. I think of it as Angelica’s loving and frank description, and it is Angelica who shows the insight that Mrs. Montague could purge real ghosts that she saw and pretend to see ghosts if it made her clients happy and lie about ghosts to make money as necessary. Really, once you believe that ghosts could be, then the rest of Anne’s behavior is like any other somewhat desperate professional consultant’s. Take a somewhat seedy lawyer: Personal injuries do happen and should be compensated, but also, when you need to make money, you might be willing to have your client wear a slightly larger than necessary cervical collar to get the point across, and, further, maybe you are convincing your client to ask for money that you know he’s not really entitled to, but you do get a percentage of it. So what would Anne Montague say about Angelica’s (my) description of her? I think she’d shrug and say that life is not perfect, but she definitely helped those she could, and she hurt no one.

RHRC: Everywhere one looks in Angelica, one finds a possible construction of reality called into question by another–and sometimes yet another. How does this uncertainty reflect your own view of the possibility of understanding what’s going on in our everyday lives?

AP: This is a case, I think, where writing has led me to certain beliefs. It started in Prague with a technical realization about writing scenes: Events look different depending on where, literally, you’re standing. In The Egyptologist, knowing only one’s own part in the story gives a character only a partial understanding of the events. And now, in Angelica, it’s gotten even more extreme: The events themselves change depending on who’s describing them. I don’t think I started all this consciously, but it has led me to a point of believing that much of life–not all of it, but more than is commonly believed–is subjective.

RHRC: Angelica is set in a culture in transition–from superstition to science, from women’s status as chattel to a less subjugated existence, from severe class distinctions to less severe ones, from sexual and medical repression to greater openness. Do you think the Victorian era was singular in the intensity of its changes, or do you think our societies are always changing this dramatically, whether we know it or not?

AP: The speed and intensity of change, the drama of change, does vary from era to era. I recall a college class on medieval Europe, the main reading for which was a text about climate change in the fifteenth century. I had the impression that possibly things were not moving that quickly for most people at the time. My limited study of Victorian history–mostly from the work of the historian Peter Gay–certainly gave me the impression of almost frightening rates of change. Whether that’s what it felt like at the moment is an interesting question. I think the historian’s job is to try to give a sense of what the average person felt, but it’s dangerous to assume that any given individual would have that average experience. The novelist, conversely, has the fun of trying to imagine what it felt like for a specific individual (a character), but it’s then equally dangerous to extrapolate outwards from that character’s experience and apply it to anyone else. I don’t think, to answer your actual question, that all societies evolve with the same speed, and there are periods in history–perhaps even some cultures today–that are definitely slower to change than the Victorian period was.

RHRC: Angelica herself, as a child, is reminiscent of other literary children–created by writers as far apart as Stephen King and Nathaniel Hawthorne–in danger but also capable of savantlike observations and utterances. How aware were you of the tradition that includes such characters as Pearl in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and the children in Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw” as you wrote this novel? And why do you think that children in literature are so often given such otherworldly and sometimes supernatural characteristics?

AP: I was keenly aware of the children in “Turn of the Screw,” less so of other famous, literary horror children. And I would point out that I think Angelica the child actually has very few utterances that make much sense or carry much weight at all. On the contrary, she just says all the plain old stuff that most kids say–it’s the grown-ups that interpret her words as carrying some real weight. She’s just a four-year-old with a fair-to-middling imagination; the adults project onto her the horror, the exquisite insights, the aptitudes, and the almost supernatural awareness of dangers. As for the generic child-in-horror other-worldliness, I don’t have a good answer, but I can make up one that sounds catchy. How about this? Childhood is, in retrospect, magical, frightening, and profound; when writers look back on it, it seems a faraway country with incredible natives.

RHRC: Your novels are known for their unreliable narrators. Why are you drawn to this technique?

AP: Well, part of the answer is up above in question three. Another part is that I think all narrators–even the old classic third person omniscient narrators of the great nineteenth-century novels–are unreliable. There is a point-of-view, a logic, a morality in every narrator, because they’re all human. That said, I’m working on a third-personomniscient narrative now, and Prague was third-person and classically reliable, but it had some characters who were quite unreliable who told their own stories without the main narrator’s editing them. I just think that first-person is much more recognizable as unreliable, and in both The Egyptologist and Angelica, technical requirements of the story made first-person a much more appealing choice. In The Egyptologist, it allowed a slow revelation of facts that an omniscient narrator would have owed the reader a lot sooner, and in Angelica, the combination whammy of first-person telling third-person stories added a fun layer to the plot. I am drawn to stories in which the plot produces the document you’re reading. I won’t always use it, but that’s definitely something I enjoy because it opens up a lot of room to play with the structure.

RHRC: Novelists often say that the characters they create take on a life of their own and surprise their own creators with their “demands.” Did you experience anything like this as you were writing Angelica?

AP: I think that is a nice, if overused, metaphor for what the process of creating a novel feels like: You think about the book even when you’re not sitting down and literally writing it, so thoughts about it intrude on the rest of your life. Characters develop over the years it takes to write, so they gain traits that you think of only after you’ve been writing about them for a while. Plot sometimes grows out of character, so you think of something new about a character and that causes the plot to change. These are just the facts of the matter, but the sensation, especially when you’re deep in the process, can resemble that loony notion that the characters are alive, demanding, dictating, etc.

RHRC: Psychoanalysis was in its earliest stages during the time in which Angelica is set, and it plays a role in the novel. As you understand the process of analysis, what relation does it bear to novels as a form of narration and interpretation?

AP: I did my time in therapy, and I can absolutely see the relationship between psychotherapy/psychoanalysis and the certain structures of novels. Obviously, there are therapy novels. One that was much on my mind when writing Angelica was Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo, which takes the same form as Angelica: a letter to an analyst that ends with the patient quitting analysis. Novels don’t come out of you fully written. You don’t think of the story and then write it down; writing it down helps you find the story. And talking on the couch helps you figure out the story of your life. To me, the parallels are very clear.

RHRC: I found myself sympathizing more with Joseph, Constance’s husband, than with Constance. Did you by any chance mean him to be a more sympathetic character? Or is this just me being sexist?

AP: I didn’t mean him to be more sympathetic, nor are you being sexist. I think that sympathy in a novel should be left as much as possible to the reader, and that, ideally, the “good guy” of a novel should be very subjective. I am less interested in novels where the sympathetic qualities are hoarded by one of the characters.

RHRC: At the end of the book, there is a kind of intellectual rejection of the idea of exploring one’s own past as a legitimate and beneficial exercise. Does this reflect your own view of the importance of an adult’s exploration of his or her own childhood?

AP: Definitely not. Angelica herself is done with analysis, and has had experiences in it that would no longer be ethically allowed in current therapeutic sessions. She has rejected it, and yet, I think you can read the novel as the story of her benefiting from analysis despite her belief that she hasn’t. For myself, I absolutely have no doubt about the importance of an adult’s exploration of his or her life in a therapeutic setting. Look at that! A real, honest-to-God position of my own! So there!

Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. Can anyone be justly blamed for the situation at the Barton house?

2. How did your impressions of Constance Barton, Anne Montague, Joseph Barton, and Angelica Barton change with each of the four parts?

3. Were there really ghosts at the Barton house? Do you think Arthur Phillips believes in the supernatural, or is he a man of science? Or does it matter?

4. What is Constance really fighting, if not a blue flying man? What does the specter represent? Why is it important that it be male? Would you say Constance is insane? Why or why not? Which is more frightening: the supernatural or the real horrors in Constance’s home and mind? What’s the difference?

5. Do you think Dr. Miles’s insights about the Bartons’ situation are reasonable? How do they compare to Anne Montague’s?

6. Does Anne Montague help or hinder Constance? Why is Constance special to Anne, although Anne has treated many similar cases?

7. How are the roles of motherhood and fatherhood discussed in the novel? Consider Constance as a girl, a mother, and a motherless mother. Consider Joseph’s relationship with his mother and father, and his sense of himself as a father. How can Anne, who has never had children of her own, be a mother to both Constance and Angelica?

8. How is childhood portrayed in this novel? Who is protecting whom? Who needs protection most?

9. Do you think Angelica is innocent, all things considered?

10. What is the difference between Joseph’s feelings of failure and Constance’s? How do their respective realizations of failure affect them? Did you feel more sympathetic to one or the other of these characters?

11. Who uses sex as a weapon in Angelica, literally or figuratively? Who is dominated or manipulated by it? Is sex particularly dangerous in the Victorian context? If so, how?

12. Mature narrator Angelica writes from Constance’s point of view: “for that was precisely the issue in this house: the flesh reality of intellectual conversation” (p. 137). What does this mean? How does Joseph’s interpretation of the “issue” differ?

13. Do the issues presented in this Victorian ghost story apply to contemporary readers? Do they resonate with your own life?

14. Do you think Constance’s reaction to Joseph’s work testing on animals is reasonable or hysterical? Is Joseph a sadist or a scientist? Can he be both? Do you think men are intrinsically more scientifically minded, and women intuitively minded? Does the author think so?

15. Do you agree with Anne’s statement, “No woman has ever launched a war, and no woman ever could” (p. 166)? Do you agree when she proposes, “Anywhere that women live free of men, they live with legs” (p. 186)? Do you think this is a feminist novel?

16. Why did Phillips make Joseph an ex-military man? What about Joseph’s foreigner status? How do these aspects of the character affect our opinions of him and the opinions of the characters in the novel?

17. In Angelica, some characters are or were actors, they speak in the dialogue of classic plays, and they go to the theater together. Why does Phillips use theater metaphors throughout the novel?

18. What do you think Phillips is saying about perception, reality, illusions, and dreams with Angelica?

Arthur Phillips

Arthur Phillips Events>

Arthur Phillips - Angelica

Photo © Jan Phillips

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