Just at the time Miss Garnet came to the end of her teaching career, her friend and housemate Harriet died. With that loss, Miss Garnet came to realize how much she would miss the more lively Harriet and she impulsively (for a change), decided to live in Venice for six months. In the beautiful Venice she has experiences she never expected, makes friends of all ages, and discovers emotions she thought were absent in her.
She becomes friends with two young people, a man and woman, who work on a restoration project not far from where she lives. As she learns their story, she finds it connects with a book not part of the canon of the Hebrew scripture, the Book of Tobit. Some of the story recounted in the Book of Tobit, the story of Tobit and his son Tobias, have echoes in the story of the two young restorers, Toby and Sarah.
The story of Tobit is recounted in snippets throughout the book in the voice of Tobit or his son Tobias and is recognizable by a change in font. Briefly, Tobit is a righteous man who had fallen from favor and was unable to recover his fortune from a city far away. He defied the new regime and buried the dead as prescribed by the old laws and for this action, was blinded by bird droppings. His son set off to the far away land in Media to recover the family fortune and was accompanied by the angel Raphael in the form of a man called Azarias. Meanwhile in Media, the king's daughter Sara was infected by a demon that murdered any man who married her and tried to become her husband; seven had died already. With Azarias' help, Tobias successfully marries Sara, brings her back to his family, along with their recovered fortune. And Tobit's sight is restored.
The connection between the modern Toby and Sarah and the story of Tobit seems a bit strained to me. Sarah eventually appeared to be infected by a demon which was more or less cast out. Miss Garnet was instrumental in making this happen; perhaps her inspiration was the angel Raphael, so present in this book. When we are introduced to the young people, they are described as twins. They look alike so it's a bit creepy when it turns out they are cousins, and it's therefore fine that they are lovers.
The loving descriptions of Venice and the magic it worked on the mature Miss Garnet is the best part of the book.
Salley Vickers, Miss Garnet's Angel, Carroll & Graf, 2000,342 pages (available from the UVa and public libraries).