Tracy Chevalier has moved from the world of the Dutch artist Vermeer to gaslit London at the dawn of the new century. One day after Queen Victoria's death, two families meet in the cemetery. The Colemans and the Waterhouses never travel in the same social circles, but their daughters form a friendship. And as a new king ascends the throne, Kitty Coleman's restlessness pushes her into the suffragette movement with tragic results.

Told from alternating viewpoints, FALLING ANGELS is unique among novels set at the turn of the century. It begins with a wife-swapping party and moves into challenging the very fabric of life during the beginning of the century. Though the shift in narrative may detract from the story line, the colorful historical events, such as the suffragettes' march and details on how to give an open house, give readers a clear picture of the era. Ms. Chevalier's gift for presenting complex characters and brilliantly drawn settings is used to full effect. SENSUAL (Now available, 319 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin