Sunday, April 22, 2007


Last night I finished the new novel from Arthur Phillips, Angelica. I read his previous novel, The Egyptologist, in paperback in 2005 and absolutely loved it (I believe it was on my Top Ten books that year). When I found out that he had a new novel out, it was a no-brainer to buy it in hardback (the fact it was on sale and that I also had a coupon helped as well).

Angelica starts out seeming like a ghost story and it is set in England in the 1880s. The titular Angelica has just been moved into her own room from her parents' bedroom; she is four. Her mother, Constance, comes to believe her daughter is being harmed by a spectre that is somehow linked to her husband's desires to harm her. Constance almost died in childbirth and had lost other children previous to that and has been warned by doctors not to get pregnant again. The events of the novel spiral out from there.

What is more interesting than the setup is the execution. The book is told from the points of view of four people in the novel - Constance, Anne Montague (a spiritualist brought in to help rid the Barton home of the troubles), Joseph (the husband and father), and Angelica herself. We see the events from those points of view and it can change your opinions about what happened or what the people are like. In addition, all of those viewpoints are actually written by one person, which further obscures the truth. The Egyptologist also featured unreliable narrators and while the two books are different, there are also similarities.

I liked this book quite a bit, if not quite as much as The Egyptologist. I will definitely pick up his next book and now have even more reason to go back and pick up his debut, Prague.

That was my 9th book of the year (and it took me 10 days to get through it). In order to be on pace for 40 books, I should finish April with at least 12 books read...that's probably not going to happen at this point. I'm not quite sure what I'll read next. I had hoped to space out the Harry Potter books but I have a few novels on preorder that will be arriving in early April, both of which I'll want to read immediately. I'm also interested in The Road and have been ever since it was published; now it's out in paperback and has won the Pulitzer, so it'll be pretty easy to get a hold of. I don't know. Maybe I will end up diving into the second Potter next. I do know that I'm getting back to "The Hellboy Project" in the immediate future, though.


Trevor said...

Glad to hear Angelica is good. I loved The Egyptologist and stalled out about halfway through Prague. I don't think I even finished it. It's well written and he does the multiple pov's deftly, but . . . the plot(s) is/are thin.

Justin said...

It has that Henry James feel with a modern sensibility, if that makes any sense. I bet you'll enjoy it, Trevor.