The Black Angels (1926) by Maud Hart Lovelace

The Black Angels by Maud Hart Lovelace

From the original review in The Oakland Tribune, Nov. 1926:  In the eighties the theatre-loving world was on what might be termed a Pinafore jag. Light opera troupes, specializing in the presentation of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical hit, toured the land by the dozens. Some were good, many were bad, and a few were excellent.

The latter, however, never found their way back into the Middle West or back country sections, but the former did in scattered bands. And it is with this little known phase of early American middle western life that Maud Hart Lovelace deals in her novel The Black Angels.


A tale of joyousness and dreams of youth

Although the story opens in Minnesota in the period just preceding the Civil War and carries through to the decline of the before-mentioned Pinafore rage, yet it is a tale of joyousness and dreams of youth.

The story centers about the life and activities of three generations of the Angel family. They were called the Black Angels because of the raven shade of their hair, seven children of a music loving Scotchman who early settled in the Midwest and attempted to earn a precarious living by farming and teaching music.

The children, except the plodding Joseph, inherited the musical talent of their father and it was with enthusiasm that they hailed the plan of Benjy that the family take the road in the old ox-drawn covered wagon as The Angel Family Musical Troupe.


Successes, failures, and loves 

Then the tale deals with their successes, failures, and loves until finally Angel Johns, daughter of the carefree Fanny Angel, achieves the opportunity for operatic honors. While we might not particularly care for some of the characters who have been more or less played in hero roles by the author, the book is decidedly worth reader and highly enjoyable.

It touches a phase of American life that has never been dwelt upon before. It is the story of youth, of a new generation come to battle with the traditions of the old and to set out upon having adventures of its own.

The Black Angels is Mrs. Lovelace’s first novel and she was two years in the writing of it. The author put in the greater part of the time in research work, tracing down the particular phase of theatrical life in the files of old newspapers and local records.

For this reason the book is thoroughly authentic in its background and wonderfully well portrays the life of the wandering theatrical troupes of the period. Mrs. Lovelace has written extensively for magazines, her first publication taking place at the age of seventeen.

A few years ago she published a book of poems. During the World War [WWI] she married Delos W. Lovelace, the author, and the two spend most of their time in Minnesota.

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Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace

Quotes from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Novels


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