Ayala’s Angel sounds a bit like a not-tawdry-enough romance novel that you’d find in the quarter bin of a bookstore specializing in romance trade-ins and the occasional “art” book. While it does have a bit of romance, if you decided not to read the book solely because of the connotations involved with the title, you’d be one sad reader, pal. Cause it’s an Anthony Trollope number, and while it has its fair share of yucks and laffs (perhaps it is as gently witty towards its main characters as any Trollope I’ve read), they’re surrounded by that eye for everyday detail that makes Trollope (along with the fact that his characters are memorable, his prose is sweet, etc, etc) so enjoyable to read. And the fact that it contains the following quote that references a particular vintage of claret (Trollope was so fond of this winery he bought–as the book’s notes tell us–24 bottles in one go) makes the book even better. Any reverence for a particular booze bears repeating:
But before the end of the first fortnight there grew upon her a feeling that even bank notes become tawdry if you are taught to use them as curl-papers. It may be said that nothing in the world is charming unless it be achieved at some trouble. If it rained ’64 Leoville–which I regard as the most divine of nectars–I feel sure that I should never raise it to my lips.