Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

In The Third Angel, Alice Hoffman weaves a magical and stunningly original story that charts the lives of three women in love with the wrong men: Headstrong Madeleine Heller finds herself hopelessly attracted to her sister’s fiance. Frieda Lewis, a doctor’s daughter and a runaway, becomes the muse of an ill-fated rock star. And beautiful Bryn Evans is set to marry an Englishman while secretly obsessed with her ex-husband. At the heart of the novel is Lucy Green, who blames herself for a tragic accident she witnessed at the age of twelve, and who spends four decades searching for the Third Angel–the angel on earth who will renew her faith. Brilliantly evoking London’s King’s Road, Knightsbridge, and Kensington while moving effortlessly back in time, The Third Angel is a work of startling beauty about the unique, alchemical nature of love.

I picked this book up because it was Alice Hoffman's, not because I knew what it was about. I actually didn't read a synopsis of it until after I'd finished the book. The book is set in 3 times periods, all revolving around the same London hotel, Lion Park, and ill-fated love. The first story is set in roughly present time, and when I had finished the first piece I wasn't all that impressed. It was an OK story, but nothing really special for me. The characters didn't have the depth that I was used to from Hoffman.

The second piece is set in the 60's. Since I hadn't read the synopsis, and didn't know what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Paul's mother's story. Paul was the fiance in the first piece. Here the story starts to wind around and really get interesting. I found the characters a lot more engaging, and the story more intriguing.

The third piece, set in the 50's was by far my favorite. I don't know if I was more sympathetic to the character since she was a child, or if I liked the way all 3 pieces of the story were being woven together. The main character in the third piece was Allie's mother, from the first part. The three pieces of the story were very neatly tied together, but I got the feeling that the character's in the first piece were there mostly as a way to bring the parent's stories together.

While all of the stories focused on love gone wrong in some way, I was surprised the book didn't feel darker than it did. The darkness was still there, but there was also a feeling of hope and redemption that ran throughout the book. This was another book that I found myself flipping back through to re-read some parts after I had finished it. The stories are so tightly woven together that dialogue in the first part had so much more meaning after finishing the book. 4.5 stars

Order The Third Angel from Amazon


Darlene said...

I read this one a while back and absolutely loved it. I'm a big Alice Hoffman fan. Glad you enjoyed it too.

Alea said...

This sounds really interesting! I love stories that weave together like that :)

Kathleen Gilligan said...

Wow, sounds good, I'll add it to my wishlist, thanks!