About The Book
Jem McCrail is a fantastical godsend to the timid young Alice Pilling. “Like a dropped acorn,” she appears halfway through the week, halfway through the term, and halfway through Miss Aldridge’s Silent Reading Hour. Through the doorway she barely clears, wearing clothes like the cowshed-crouching urchin she encountered in her favorite P. G. Wodehouse story, Jem leads the stammering Alice into a world of culture, truancy, and bizarrerie—a world far beyond the desiccated lessons of school. The girls cultivate a steadfast bond based on a wicked and encircling sense of humor, an impish joy in indelicate literature, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
Then, as abruptly as she came, Jem disappears.
The years and schools that follow, as well as the lovers—one stuffy but competent, the other a smug would-be Thatcherite—do not dim the image of the wondrous Jem. The disheartened Alice is almost ready to settle when an accident and the intervention of a latter-day fallen angel impel her on one more wild and extravagant journey. At the end her quest will lead her through the portals opening to life’s profoundest joys. Like the opera it echoes, the result is pure enchantment.
“As lush and original as it is playful and ironic, Temples of Delight is a grown-up version of an adolescent fantasy. . . . It is quirky, wise and warm, full of charm and entirely original.”— San Francisco Chronicle
“Barbara Trapido applies her sharp sense of social nuances and her dry wit to advance the proposition that love conquers all. [With] a light, sure touch, . . . she manages to make the improbable surprisingly possible.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A witty, painful, and utterly pleasurable book—strong and stylish and tender.”—Shirley Hazzard
“Joyful and mysterious through and through. . . . It is modern and hip . . . and hides its depth in luxurious folds of humor.”—Los Angeles Times