Angadi, who gave us The Governess (1985), places herself as a writer in the British eccentric tradition with this story about a modern virgin birth. The title comes from a slightly mangled line in a hymn (""All hail. . .thou lowly maiden Mary/Most highly favored lady, Gloria""), and refers to young Mary Stein, who with her two older sisters--Mim, a sex-crazed actress, and Maggie, an obsessively levelheaded schoolteacher--lives in Lavender Cottage on Hampstead Heath. The other rooms in the quaint boardinghouse are let to a strange collection of lost souls, "". . .all old disillusioned sixties types,"" as one of them puts it. As soon as Mary moves in, however she begins getting flashes from the past--1870, to be exact, when another Mary. ""isolated in a blue pool of unworldliness,"" is chosen by God to hear his son, but then falls in love and loses her virginity to a consumptive named Gabriel Cane. The 19th-century Mary turns out to be a beneficent ghost, who passes on to the modern Mary the responsibility of bearing the Almighty's child. Her sisters figure she was raped and then developed amnesia, but Mary and her fiancÃ‰, the patient widower, Joseph Zimmerman, know better. Angadi handles the shifts from century to century adroitly, and clearly has a mind brimming with flaky characters. Nonetheless, her writing lacks the sharp focus and comic perceptiveness that would make her a rival to Rubens or Pym.
Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles