Monday, June 3, 2013

The Angel at No. 33 – Polly Williams

Sophie and Jenny have been friends since university days when they met for the first time in their new dorm. Through thick and thin they have been there for each other. Sophie is now married to the smoulderingly handsome, Ollie, they have the adorable Freddie and her life seems perfect, whilst Jenny is still single, but still, they are more like sisters than just friends.

Jenny has been engaged for over a year, but, despite the fact that they agreed to a short engagement, there seems to be no sign of getting any closer to setting a date with Sam who is quite prepared to keep changing the subject when it comes up.

One night, after too much wine during a fabulous catch up get together, Sophie is hit by a bus and killed outright in front of Jenny. Everyone’s life changes from that moment on and Ollie, Jenny and Freddie have to begin to come to terms with the loss of the most pivotal and influential person in each of their lives.

When Ollie is lost and devastated and Freddie seems sad, the” Help Ollie campaign team” which consists of four mum’s who were friends of Sophie’s from her local neighbourhood, decide come the rescue . They forged a firm friendship with Sophie during hours of gossip waiting outside the school gate and bonded over school fundraisers and bake sales. They meet Jenny for the first time at Sophie’s funeral and plot to draft her into their ranks to lead the mission of cheering Ollie up and making sure Freddie gets more to eat than cereal or biscuits. Jenny begins to discover a side of Sophie she had no idea existed and is soon drawn into the lives of these generous women who each have troubles of their own.

This is a funny, beautifully written and touching story of love, motherhood, friendship and dealing with grief. The thing I liked most about it was that although Sophie lingers on after her death and is an observer and often a narrator of events that happen after her death in this story, she has very little or no physical influence on how things unfold and begins to think she is a useless ghost. Polly Williams draws a wonderful picture of how a person can influence those closest to them even after their death. She deftly paints a picture of how we feel the presence of our loved ones long after they have gone because of the impact they had on us during their lifetime.

It is the first Polly Williams book I have read and it will not be the last. I am so excited to have found her work.

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