Falling Angels chronicles the lives of two girls whose families own adjacent plots in a London cemetery—one decorated with a sentimental angel, the other with an elaborate urn. During a ceremonial stroll through the graveyard grounds, an act of mourning for the recently deceased Queen Victoria, Maude Coleman and Lavinia Waterhouse meet, forging a fast friendship.
Despite their distinct personality differences, Maude being more precocious and contemplative and Lavinia leaning to the impulsive and dramatic, the girls are instantly drawn to each other to the dismay of their mothers. Despite being neighbors, Kitty Coleman and Gertrude Waterhouse occupy different positions in the British class system—the Waterhouses are lower-middle class, while the Colemans are upper-middle class, with a larger house and garden, and live-in servants. The women have little in common, and their views on the changing political climate fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. Kitty looks forward to a more modern society, while the Gertrude reveres the late Queen Victoria and clings to Victorian traditions.
The death of Queen Victoria marked the end of an era. Britain emerged from the shadows of oppressive Victorian values to a more liberal Edwardian lifestyle. With these relaxed social standards came other advances—one of which was the growing interest in the women's suffragist movement, a topic that divides Kitty and Gertrude, as it did many women of the era. As with most periods of political turmoil, the fight for the right of women to vote had its own victim of change, as felt by both families.
A poignant tale of two families brought reluctantly together, Falling Angels is an intimate story of childhood friendships, sexual awakening and human frailty. Yet its epic sweep takes in the changing of a nation, the fight for women's suffrage and the questioning of steadfast beliefs.