All This Heavenly Glory by Elizabeth Crane

All This Heavenly Glory by Elizabeth Crane

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover, 224 pages, 2005

Rating: 8/10

Reason for Reading: Someone saying they ‘adore’ an author is generally a good sign

that you should give them a whirl, is it not?

Synopsis: Travel along with Charlotte Anne Byers as she spends her life looking

for a place where she can be herself (once she figures out who exactly that might be), from

precarious childhood friendships, through lowering herself to the indignities of teenage

dating, to the quest of her thirties to shake off the tempestuous years of her twenties and

finally get her life on track.

Why you should read this book: The challenge: if you can just manage to wrap your

brain around the first chapter of All This Heavenly Glory. which is probably one of

the longest run-on sentences you’ve read since Virginia Woolf, you’re in for a treat. All

This Heavenly Glory can satisfy your craving for more in-depth chick-lit; rather than drawing out one or two relationships for three hundred pages, Crane includes a sweeping reach of over thirty years of Charlotte Anne’s life. Charlotte Anne’s frenzied, unrestrained thoughts

are spellbinding and endearing in their honesty and completeness. The book has a story, or

at least a vibe, that many women can relate to – the uncertainty of life and the challenges

of growing up, even when you’re long past the magical age of 18. A solid read that rewards

the effort of adapting to reading Crane’s meandering style of writing.

Why you should avoid this book: While the rest of the book doesn’t go to the

extreme lengths of the opening chapter, Charlotte Anne is sometimes long-winded to the point

where you’d be forgiven for using the phrase ‘rambling neurotic.’ Not for the reader that

prefers straight-forward sentences and a purpose-driven plot.

Opening paragraph:

SWF, above average on a really good day, on a bad day still fairly cute but you

might want to mention that her hair doesn’t look too big before she has to ask, frequently

compared to a certain movie star (who shall remain nameless a) in case you don’t think she

resembles the star, b) in case you don’t find the star especially beautiful, and also c)

because every time someone says they look like someone in a personal ad it’s more like those

separated-at-birth things where the allegedly more attractive person suddenly looks

distorted and creepy, like Winona Ryder looks eerily like Vincent Price and you can never

really see her again in the same way, or if it’s a guy who’s comparing himself to let’s say

Ed Harris when in fact he looks more like Curly), is not even remotely overweight but has

finally and recently and very reluctantly joined a gym due only to her doctor mentioning

something about crumbling bones […]

Fabulous quotes:

Clarisse drifts away from Charlotte Anne and towards Leslie Bacon, an

almost-member of the D.O.B.L. (mutually rejected upon the basis of her loafers, which, while

identical in style, were brown) who has similar proclivities and double-dates with the

twenty-four year old’s twenty-three year old business partner. (Though twelve-year-old

Clarisse, like Charlotte Anne, is already 5’6″, C.A. wonders where exactly they go on their

double dates that no one bothers to say, “Um, excuse me Mr. Cool Ponytail Guy, shouldn’t you

be in jail?”)

She wanted to be a filmmaker, but what if she wanted to write a novel? What if

she suddenly overcame her stage fright and learned how to play an instrument and got asked

to sing backup for Tenacious D? How could she say no to that, except what if her movie was

opening the same night as the Tenacious D tour and she had to decide between the two?

Couldn’t you sing backup for Tenacious D and also be a filmmaker? Who decided that you

couldn’t? Someone who was too tired to figure out what to call someone who was a filmmaking

backup singer? Why did career have to imply one thing? Why did goals seem to imply an end?

What happens if you meet all your goals? Do you like, shoot off into space or something and

burst into a worldwide fireworks display announcing goal-completion and then cease to


Also recommended: Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson;

White Teeth by Zadie Smith; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Also by this author: When the Messenger is Hot.

Fun tidbit: Crane’s inspiration to begin writing at the age of eight? A read of

Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 classic, Harriet the Spy.

Would I read more by this author? Yes. Her writing is light but certainly not


&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2005

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