Thursday, January 21, 2010

7. The Third Angel - Alice Hoffman

Audio read by Nancy Travis (magnificent!)
for: adults
Published 2008
7 unabridged cd's
8 hrs.
288 pages
HC $25, paper coming in March, 2010
My rating: 5

Nancy Travis reads this so beautifully. I love the story, but I wonder if it's also the way that Ms. Travis reads it that hypnotized me. Wonderful storytelling. How do people create stories with such depth with so much weaving of lives? For that is precisely what this book is, the weaving of many lives, how one can touch another that touches another....

Set, for the most part, in London. Told in three parts, first in the mid-1990's, from the point-of-view of Maddy Heller, a young woman who is not entirely likable, who falls in love with her sister's fiance, Paul. Unfortunately, just before they are to be married, Paul succumbs to cancer, which has wasted him away. We get to know the two sisters, the parents of the bride and groom, and the fourth major player in the story - the hotel which is the setting of all three parts.

Then we travel to the Mid 1960's and get to know Frieda Lewis, a doctor's daughter who has run away to London and taken a job as a maid at the hotel. Frieda Lewis falls in love with a drug-addicted musician who marries another, but who has taken Frieda as his "muse." She marries and has Paul, who she loves fiercely. She is a wonderful woman, strong and smart.

Lastly, we meet Lucy Green, 12 years old at the end of WWII. She has traveled from NYC to attend the wedding of her stepmother's sister, Bryn. She is a reader, and lends her copy of Anne Frank to a handsome young man who is also staying at the hotel. This is Bryn's former husband, someone her parents considered a hooligan - enough to annul the marriage and send Bryn to Paris where she met and became engaged to Teddy Healy. But tragedy strikes, a tragedy that will follow Lucy Green through her life. We've already met her -- she is Maddy's mother.

There are so many people that come in and out of all three lives. There are constants, there are peripherals, and they are wonderfully woven in. This is a terrific story...of love, of loss, of pain, and of accepting things that we don't want to accept. It's a story of addictions, of heartache...and of happiness, too. It was really wonderful. And not one, despite what I've said, that is a tear-jerker. Thank goodness....

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