This was my first book of the Rereadathon and the one that immediately popped in to my head when I first signed up. I first read Wise Children back in 2007 when I first started my A Levels and I loved it back then, and I love it now. I think the general consensus amongst the people I’m still in touch with from school that it’s a pretty glorious book (even with the incest). The annotations by myself and my best friend were also particularly spectacular, my favourite being ‘fornication (sex)’. Clearly a more innocent time.
Wise Children revolves around twin sisters, Dora and Nora, on the day of their 75th birthday. Which coincidentally is also the 100th birthday of their illegitimate father. Dora narrates and chronicles the ups and downs of the Hazard/Chance family from their father’s birth through to their childhood and to the steady decline of their showgirl career in the sixties.
The book is basically a homage to all things Shakespearean, show business, nostalgic and feminist. There’s family drama galore; legitimate, illegitimate and almost legitimate children; absent fathers; ex wives and mistaken identities. Twins run in the family.
Throughout the book Dora narrates with humour, a darkly funny take on tragedies long past, and matter-of-factness. Angela Carter’s style of writing remains the only thing that has ever tempted me to write anything myself because of how lyrical yet accessible it is. It remains one of my favourite books I have ever read.