Friday, February 6, 2009

Angel On Skis
Betty Cavanna

Then, as Angela leaned foward, testing the sensation of crouching, she felt herself take off downhill. Instinctively she did the right thing. She kept her ankles bent, her skis parallel, the tips together. She was moving fast for one wonderful moment, and then she saw a snowbank looming ahead and toppled sideways as she tried to swerve. One ski stuck up in the air; the other raced downhill without her, but it didn't matter. She lay in the snow and smiled up at the unblinking moon.

Angela Dodge's mother has moved her and her little brother Chip from Philadelphia to a village in Vermont after their father's death in a plane crash reveals the family's precarious finances. All three are struggling to make a success of their new inn, which caters to the winter skiers. A chance encounter with a local boy and a pair of broken skis interests the restless, athletic Angela in skiing, and she sets out with single-minded obsesion to learn the sport. But it's an expensive pasttime, winter afternoons are short and she's needed at the inn. Can Angela juggle her ambitions, so like her father's, and her responsibilities to her family? And can she really interest both local boy Dave and college guy Gregg?

And instinctively, she knew how to react. Lowering her lashes, she murmured in a voice with just a suggestion of Ellen Whipple's purr, "You don't have to do a thing you don't want to, Dave, but I'd be awfully thrilled."

Well, it is Cavanna so you knew there'd be a romance there. Angela is one of her most modern heroines - ambitious, driven, athletic in a way that could lead to the Olympics instead of to healthy young motherhood. And Angela, unlike most of Cavanna's heroines, is not just the recipient of lucky kindness on the parts of others, she's often the architect of her own good luck. She is, in short, an operator. Cavanna's earlier characters had pluck; Angela has chutzpah. But in the end, Angela is still a Cavanna creation - at one point she wonders which is better, to compete herself or watch Gregg compete, and the last word in the book belongs to Gregg.

Cavanna also manages to include her animals - Angela's new friend loves horses and riding as Angela loves skis and ski'ing, and her little brother Chip adopts an Irish Setter puppy named Christie.


1988, Troll Books, cover il. Isabel Dawson (shown)

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