Lucy Caldwell: The Story So Far

Share

I read the most incredible novel this week. It's called Angel and is set around the turn of the 19th century, about a 15-year-old who lives above a grocer's shop but dreams that she is born of aristocracy fallen on hard times. Angel writes a preposterous book - all lords and ladies and champagne, peacocks strutting on lawns and butlers with white gloves - and although it is florid and ridiculous, a London publisher accepts it on the hunch that it may well prove to be a comic bestseller.

Angel came recommended by two of my literary heroines, one of whom I met on the film set of Blake Morrison's wonderful memoir, And When Did You Last See Your Father?. We were sitting in the green room sharing the literary sections of the Saturday supplements for a good 10 minutes before recognising each other. The scene was an award ceremony circa 1985; I was in a strapless, tight-bodiced, shiny black-and-fuchsia satin confection, four-inch stilettos, purple lipstick and eyeshadow and a back-combed side-ponytail. (I only admit this because the chances of anyone actually identifying me on celluloid are negligible. Hitherto, incidentally, the pinnacle of my acting career has been on Radio 4, as the sound of a corpse with rigor mortis being massaged prior to embalming. But that's a whole other story.)

So, this writer, who as she will be similarly unrecognisable shall remain nameless, sang the praises of Angel. As soon as I finished it, I e-mailed my lovely friend Nick, a playwright and literary agent. "It's devastatingly brilliant," I enthused. "And you'll never guess who it's by: Elizabeth Taylor, of all people, who'd've thought it?!"

Lovely Nick e-mailed back: "Um, Luce," he wrote, tactfully, "I don't think she's the Elizabeth Taylor you're thinking of..." It turns out that Angel, recently reprinted by Virago, is being made into a $15m film by François Ozon, starring Romola Garai, and is by another "Elizabeth Taylor" altogether: Buckinghamshire-bred, née Coles.

Thus was I saved from many an embarrassing faux pas in literary company. But I can't quite get over my disappointment that the book wasn't scribbled in violet ink by the star of Lassie Come Home, in between filming Cleopatra and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?.

Following my own brief foray on to the silver screen, I rushed across London to meet a friend at a concert, having made a frantic and futile attempt to scrub my face clean with babywipes in a mirror-less loo. Luckily, it was Rachmaninov's Vespers, sung by two choirs dressed in purple, in a Gothic church lit only by candles. And so the matte pan foundation, mauve eyeshadow and indelible traces of magenta lipstick - worthy almost of Angel's imaginary excesses - didn't look so out of place, after all.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links