Wise Children - Angela Carter
Like all of Carter's fiction, Wise Children is brimming with magical realism, fantastical characters and just a hint of the macabre. Twin theatrical sisters Dora and Nora Chance are our leads in a story about chorus girls, questions of paternity, love, tragedy and general familial disharmony. Dora narrates our way through the bright lights of her and Nora's 75th birthday in her light-hearted, sagely tone. The twins' birthday is also the 100th birthday of their father Melchior Hazzard and his twin brother Peregrine; as well as the birthday of Shakespeare, whom Carter admired greatly.
Most of the story stems from Dora's memories and regrets of her earlier life. In particular, the subject of paternity is a major occupation for the Chance twins as they are not entirely sure of their parentage until the end of the book. Even then, there is a sense that they will remain rootless and free as they have been all of their lives. As a result, Dora and Nora are two of the more lively and spritely characters of Carter's ouevre. Another element of Wise Children that keeps the readers attention are the names of the characters, i.e Lady Atalanta Hazzard, My Lady Margarine, Peregrine Hazzard, Ross 'Irish' O'Flaherty and the wonderful 'Blond tenor with unmemorable name' all come to mind.