Miss Garnet's Angel
When one writes a book one shouldn't,
I think, have more than the dimmest idea of why one
is writing it. But, having written it, one can begin
to see the point of why it was written - and also certain
I wrote 'Miss Garnet's Angel'
out of a potent mix: a love of Venice, and a love of
art and also ancient literature. In particular, I find
the very old tale of Tobias, who travels to Medea unaware
he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, powerful
and evocative. It has the quality of a myth or fairy
story, seeming to mean much more than its literal sense.
And I am drawn to the various paintings, by artists
of all ages, on this theme.
In 'Miss Garnet's Angel' I tell
the contemporary story of Julia Garnet, a retired school
teacher, who comes to Venice prompted by the death of
a friend. She finds the Guardi panels in the Chiesa
dell' Angelo Raffaele (to see one, click on 2 on the
map in the Venice section) which tell the story of Tobias
and the Angel and, in my own language, I tell that story
alongside hers. Some readers have found the two tales
difficult to assimilate simultaneously at first, but
most have found they come to accept and then enjoy the
parallels and, finally,with luck, to see the point of
The two tales do in fact reflect
and comment on each other (but not I hope, in obvious
ways). This reflects my view that human nature doesn't
fundamentally change, and that problems of moral choice
and issues of good and evil recur throughout all civilisations,
regardless of race, place or time. Another way of putting
this (the old way) is that there are demons and angels,
and we can choose whether or not to be be influenced
by them. I also like the ancient idea - which we find
in Homer and Virgil for example - that when we are helped
or hindered by other people they take on the identity
of the gods, or, as in this story, angels or devils.
If you want to know more about
the background of 'Miss Garnet's Angel' or to learn
more about some of the subject matter in the book, click
on the relevant section on the top left of this page.
The continued popularity of
'Miss Garnet's Angel' has led to a reissued classic
edition with an introduction by the author and six sample
chapters of 'Mr Golightly's Holiday' at the end. Sales
of 'Miss Garnet's Angel' are estimated to be over 350,000.