Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Angelology (The Review).........

I really don't know where to begin with this review as there is so much I want to say but I don't want to put out any spoilers.......so, I'll just give a high level overview for now.

Angelology is a discipline of theology which focuses entirely on the study of Angels. There are groups of researchers throughout the world today called Angelologists and because I realised this fact from the beginning, the characters and story set out in Angelology by Danielle Trussoni became immediately more plausible and compelling to me.

As the story begins it becomes apparent that the contest between good and evil is waged not in the heavens but here on Earth between warring factions of biblical scholars, Angelologists and heavenly beings hiding in plain sight at the top of society in the most wealthy and powerful families across the world. These are a race of beings born from the union between a group of angels called The Watchers and their human mothers. The Watchers became fallen angels and were cast down into the earth to suffer for eternity for their transgressions with humans. The prodigy they leave behind, however, are known as the Niphilim and they survive to this day.

The central character in the tale is Sister Evangeline, a young nun living at St. Rose Convent in Hudson River Valley, New York City. As assistant to the librarian, during the course of her work, she stumbles across a mislaid correspondence between philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller and the convent's abbess of the time, Sister Innocenta. This letter has Evangeline intrigued as it alludes to an astonishing discovery in the mountains of Bulgaria in 1943. Simultaneously, the book introduces Percival Grigori, a critically ill member of the Niphilim and son and heir of the Grigori fortune. The Grigori family and others of their kind, have engaged in warfare for generations with the Society of Angelologists, a group that included Evangeline's parents, her grandmother, Gabriella and Sister Celestine who is now an old and sick nun also living at the Convent of St Rose. Evangeline realises that what she has been told of her past is not entirely the whole story and slowly she uncovers her heritage as an Angelologist.

This discovery draws her and Grigori into conflict over control of a powerful artifact, the lyre of the mythical Orpheus. It was said that the Angel Gabriel, so saddened by his command to commit The Watchers to their eternal prison in the earth, threw the lyre into the cave after his brothers to give them the comfort of heavenly music. He realised his mistake in an instant but it was done and the lyre was cast down, giving who ever found it a power equal to God. These are the stakes that Evangeline and Grigori are playing for.

I loved every minute of the battle and found myself staying awake late at night and getting up really early in the morning until I had finished the book......It was, for me, the most enjoyable read I have had in a long time.

There were a couple of things which really annoyed me though. Firstly, Danielle Trussoni takes, what seemed to me, an unnecessary amount of time to describe cars in the story......these descriptions have no bearing on the telling of the tale, that I can see and their inclusion made me ponder whether they had been written on days when the author wanted to complete a 1,000 words for that day. The other thing, which is really the fault of the editors, is that there are two big mistakes in the plot; one relates to the length of time Sr Celestine has been at St Rose Convent (the story says over 70 years when it should have said over 50 years) and the other comes towards the end of the story when the Angelologists set off in pairs; one of the pairings is named incorrectly half way through the telling of their situation (the story says Evangeline and Verlaine when it should have said Evangeline and Bruno). Small things, I know, which say more about me as a reader than they do about the author. It is clear to me, however, that from the outset Danielle Trussoni paid great attention to detail in the writing and she obviously did an amazing amount of research to bring the story into being, so, I felt these trivial things were careless mistakes in an otherwise well written book and should never have escaped the edits.

Having said all of that, it was an amazing book and I couldn't put it down. The storyline has all the ingredients of becomming one of the best, most popular books of the year and having looked over the author's website, it is clear that she has plans to make a series and turn Angelology into epic tale. The film rights to this story have been sold to Columbia and the sequel is currently in the making.

Good luck to her and I cannot wait for the next book to be published.

I'd love to discuss the ending of the book but will not write about it here so if you want to discuss it, then drop me an email.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Angelology (The Cover)..........

Just look at the cover of this book!

I will be reviewing Angelology by Danielle Trussoni very soon as I haven't finished reading it yet, but, am enthralled and can't put it down.

Just thought I would share this lovely image with you all.

Have you read Angelology yet?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Isabel Wolff Fest! The Making of Minty Malone, Out of the Blue and Forget Me Not

I've just been on an Isabel Wolff binge and read three of her books in a row. I often do this if I find a new (to me) author and like the first of their books that I read. It happened with Peter Mayle when I discovered his love affair with Provence and also with Bill Bryson when I set out with him on his journey round England - of course, I had to find the rest of their work because I enjoyed the first one so much. Paulo Coelho's another and Annie Caufield, Alexander McCall Smith and Helen Fielding are in the too.......I could go on!

So it was with Isabel Wolff. The first of her books I picked up was one of her later ones which just happened to be sitting on the shelf during one of my surreptitious visits to the local second hand book store. I'm not supposed to go in there! I made a deal with myself that I wouldn't buy any more books until my TBR pile was at least half the size it was on New Years Day, but, I just can't help myself! It is almost impossible for me to walk past the shop door without dropping in for a little look. I have even taken to walking a different route on my shopping days or waiting until the shop is closed to head back home, just so I am not tempted. Don't think I am mad when I say this, but, it is as if the books just call out to me, I really think they do and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have come out of that shop without at least one book in my mitts!!

Anyway, I digress,.........Isabel Wolff's, Forget Me Not was written in 2007 and is the story of Anna Temple who gives up a successful career in the City to start her own garden design company after she reevaluates her life following the shock of her mother's sudden death. At the very beginning of her new venture she meets and falls for a gorgeous guy, Xan, who is very dedicated to his own career. When Anna discovers she is pregnant Xan bolts through the stable door and life for Anna is forever changed, especially once her lovely daughter, Milly, arrives on the scene. All kinds of family secrets begin to come to the fore as Anna struggles to balance her new business, being a single parent and managing the grief of her mothers sudden death.

The next book I read was The Making of Minty Malone. Written by Isabel Wolff in 1999, this is the story of Minty Malone who is really a very nice person, hates conflict and finds it hard to say no to her domineering boyfriend and pushy work colleagues who constantly take advantage of her good nature. When she is jilted at the alter on her wedding day in front of 280 guests, Minty is in shock and is persuaded to go on her what was to be honeymoon with her bridesmaid instead. That fateful trip to Paris is the beginning of what is to become an epic year long journey of discovery which takes Minty on the road to find herself.

The third book I read during this Wolff fest was Out of the Blue, which was published in 2001 and is the follow on book from Minty Malone. Faith and Peter Smith have been married for 15 years. In their early thirties, they married very young and unlike most of their friends of a similar age who are just starting out having a family or just newly married, Faith and Peter have two lovely teenage children. During a surprise anniversary dinner celebration which Faith has arranged for Peter, her long time best friend of 25 years, Lily, makes a suggestive comment about Peter which sets Faith's alarm bells ringing about his fidelity. Faith's doubts set her and Peter off on a bumpy road which takes alarming twists and turns.

As you can see, I read these books out of chronological order and I soon found that it rather matters where you start to read Isabel Wolff's work as she weaves a number of common peripheral characters into all of her stories. Although her books appear not to be a series, there is a continuity to them that adds to the interest. These characters are in the background mostly, but, they do add colour to the landscape of the main story. As I started with one of her most recent books and then flipped back to only her second, I realised quickly what she had done and was surprised to find one particular character there at the beginning of her work. I liked that, it was interesting to see how she brought the background story into the fore.
There were lots of things I liked about her work and even if the outcome of the stories are fairly predictable, she does tell a good tale. The characters she draws do become likable, but, there was one thing I found really annoying; in each book she quotes words from common prayers or lyrics from a famous song several times and interweaves lines from these with the main characters thoughts....I ended up not reading the lines of the prayer or lyrics at all and just skipping straight through the narrative. For some reason this really aggravated me! Such a small thing, however, in what was a good reading experience, overall.

It became clear to me that Isabel Wolff's later work was much more thought provoking and tackled more serious issues than her earlier works did. The earlier books are definitely more frivolous and chick-litty. I found both Minty and Faith a little annoying at first and a couple of times I wanted to tell them to shut up, but, they did become likable nevertheless and grew on me as their story progressed. Anna was much more believable and I liked her instantly. It may be a while before I read any more of Isabel Wolff's work, but, her latest book, A Vintage Affair is definitely the one I would go for next.

Do you end up reading all of an authors work once you discover you like them?

Have you read any Isabel Wolff's work?