Title: The Magic Toyshop
Author: Angela Carter
Published: 2008 (originally 1967)
It was a while ago that I first discovered the VMC Designer Collection. The beautifully designed editions of dozens of books, all written by female authors and published by Virago Press, were absolutely stunning. I don’t know about you, but 9 out of 10 times I discover new books and authors because I happen to fall in love with the book cover. Call me shallow, but I prefer ‘appreciation for the artist’. As I was browsing through list of VMC Classics, a few caught my eye. Of course there were the gorgeous Daphne du Maurier books (and I would still like to get my hands on Rebecca!) but it was The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter that stood out the most.
So, after a few months of drooling, I put it on my wish list for Sinterklaas. Imagine my joy when I opened up my presents and saw this book! The story itself is, as you might have already guessed by my rating, as beautiful as the cover. It wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be (nor as haunting), but it was a fascinating story nonetheless. The main storyline is that of Melanie, the protagonist, a girl of 15. After she and her little brother and sister lose their parents in a plane crash, they move in with their mysterious uncle Philip, a toy maker in London. His wife hasn’t been able to speak since their wedding day and little by little, Melanie discovers the tyrant that is her uncle.
The story never gets really dark or scary, probably also because of the fact that it is relatively short and because Carter’s writing is dreamlike, almost whimsical. I think Carter wrote a very, very beautiful modern retelling of Bluebeard and depicted Melanie’s coming of age, her growing into a young woman, very well. I would like to read more by Carter, so any recommendations are most welcome!
Do you recommend any other VMC Classics/female authors?