The Serpentine Cave: Jill Paton Walsh


There’s always a frisson of excitement when you come across a ‘new’ book by an author you like. Jill Paton Walsh’s Knowledge of Angels is one of my all-time favourite novels, as many of you will probably know, and so I was excited when J gave me The Serpentine Cave, which he’d unearthed in a second-hand bookshop and which I’d never heard of before. It’s very different in spirit – a tale of quiet, private truths rather than the epic resonances of Knowledge of Angels – but it’s nevertheless a moving tale of a woman trying to piece together her identity from the fragments left behind on her mother’s death.

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Knowledge of Angels: Jill Paton Walsh


This year I’m trying to reread some of the books I already own, as well as discovering new ones. It was only a matter of time before I returned to this brilliant novel, which I’ve adored ever since I read it in the Lower Sixth. Of course, opinions on books are very subjective, because the way we respond is affected so deeply by our own beliefs, memories and interests. For me, very few books come close to perfection. This is one of them. Brace yourselves for superlatives.

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