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

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tulisa Contostavlos arrives to face drug charges at Southwark Crown Court on July 14, 2014  

Tulisa might have been attacked for being working class, but she still has to take some responsibility

Chloe Hamilton
Is Ed Miliband a natural born leader? Or could he become one?  

Wanted: a leader with the strength to withstand criticism from the media

Steve Richards
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried