The bestselling author of THE THORN BIRDS returns with a novel of laughter, passion and more than a little magic …

1960, Sydney’s Kings Cross. Harriet Purcell leaves her conventional, respectable home and respectable, passionless boyfriend and moves into a rooming house owned by Mrs. Delvecchio Schwartz.

There, Harriet finds a life she relishes – excitement, adventure and passion. Mrs. Delvecchio Schwartz makes a living from telling fortunes, and is mother to 4-year-old Flo. Beautiful little Flo is mute, and Harriet comes to love her as if Flo were her own – and must protect her at all costs when tragedy strikes…

Angel is Colleen McCullough at her vintage best, drawing on her own experiences of living in the Cross in the 1960s and writing of a world that has long gone. Most of all, it is a tale of a woman’s love for a child, and what she is prepared to endure to ensure her survival.

It took me a while to get into it, and even by the end of it… I liked it, but didn’t love it.  Before that dissuades you from reading it, though, there are a few reasons why it might not have appealed to me personally:

– The setting

By which I mean both the time (1960-1961) as well as location.  I prefer more modern books – and television, to be honest.

As for location, it’s not so much that it was an issue, as it wasn’t all that relevant to the story – the most important location is The House the characters live in.  But when you’re geographically challenged it’s hard to remember it’s actually based in Australia when, for example, they live in King’s Cross.

– The dialect

This isn’t necessarily an issue I have with the author herself; it’s written in diary format, so it might just have been the character’s voice and how she relayed what other characters had said.  Again, the 1960 setting might have been relevant to this, and you get used to it, but there were some tics I wasn’t fond of.

Don’t take the title literally

Maybe I shouldn’t say that, as everyone has their own idea of what angels are like.  Perhaps I just say it because the “angel” doesn’t fit my idea of one.

While there are supernatural elements, and the angel has abilities, this isn’t a religious book and said angel is a mute four year old, not a heavenly being sent to preach – so don’t avoid it thinking that.  If, however, you’re against crystal balls and tarot cards, then that might be reason not to read.

Conclusion

The blurb above (which on my copy has the wrong name in it, see if you can find another one that says Stewart) gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect, and it happens late enough in the story that you’ve gotten to know the characters and really care what happens, rather than it happening early on just for the shock value.

I think it was a well done story and a good read, not too rushed and not too slow and with a lovely ending.

If you’re of a sensitive nature though, the sex and prostitution talk (though never done in bad taste) might be a little much.

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