Tuesday, March 10, 2009
30. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent
Rated 4 Stars
When I started reading this book I didn't think I was going to be able to get into it. It started so slow for me. I almost lost interest in reading it when the author spent so much time phaffing around setting up for the story. Lucky for me I stuck with it long enough to get interested. I get the feeling that the author had fun writing this story and therefore it makes it fun to read.
I am having a little trouble picking up on the Pride and Prejudice aspect of the story though. I am channeling more with the three Lockwell (Dashwood) sisters and Mr. Rafferty (Willoughby) And I did have to laugh at the gothic Mr. Rochester (Mr. Quent) and the locked upper room that the housekeeper makes sinister allusions to. (shades of Grace Pool) I never did figure out who in the world Mr. Garritt was a parody of and also wondered and if the Highway Man had anything to do with ghostly galleons tossed upon storm swept clouds?
Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and H.P. Lovecraft collide in Beckett's periodically entertaining debut. Young Ivy Lockwell, the unmarried daughter of a family stricken with poverty after her magician father went mad, travels from her home in Invarel, a mirror of Austen-era London, to become a governess at the country estate of Heathcrest, a Bronte-analogue complete with mysterious Rochester stand-in, Mr. Quent. As a woman, she is forbidden to perform magic and consoles herself with the study of magical history, discovering an ancient story still working its will on the world. Treading a fine line between homage and unoriginality, Invarel occasionally sparkles with descriptions of illusionist shows and quasi-fascist government activity, but Heathcrest is lifted part and parcel from Jane Eyre, and Beckett relies too much on references to that work to fuel emotional arcs and reader attachment.