Angel Pavement Business Failure Is Novelistic Success

Angel Pavement is a spellbinding insiders’ view of a small business failure.

Twigg & Dersinghan at 8 Angel Pavement, London, sells veneers and inlays. The firm makes enough to pay the six-person staff, but business is steadily declining. Mr. Smeeth, the bookkeeper, fears Twigg & Dersinghan could go under.

A stranger arrives with a business proposition. Through his contacts in the Balkans, Mr. Golspie offers to provide Mr. Dersingham with veneer and inlays at far cheaper rates  than the firm had been paying. Mr. Smeeth feels there is something not quite right, but Mr. Dersingham reassures him.

J. B. Priestley takes readers into the lives of the office staff, letting us see what their colleagues don’t see.

Unlike Mr. Smeeth, who lives for his job, Mr. Dersingham would rather be anything than a businessman.  Stanley, the office boy, wants adventures, as does the formidable Miss Matfield, though she is too genteel to admit it.

Turgis wants love enough to die for it, except that he lacks money for the gas meter so he can commit suicide. Poppy Sellers wants Turgis.

Business booms as Golspie promised. The staff get raises.

But Mr. Golspie is a crook; the boom can’t last — and it doesn’t.

This sympathetic but unsentimental story will hold your attention to the last paragraph.

Angel Pavement
J. B. Priestley
Harper & Brothers, 1930
400 pages
1930 Bestseller #5
My grade: A-

© Linda Gorton Aragoni