I think this book is a compilation of short stories and lacks the depth of the title itself. So, I'm giving it three stars for the fact that I got bored with a lot of characters. The only intriguing ones were the sisters Maddy and Allie and their Blue Heron. Also, I love how Hoffman unraveled Frieda's tale. The rest of the stories were forgettable and very ordinary.
I love Alice Hoffman and how she blends magic and reality so well. She continues to do that in this book.
Here is Hoffman at her most magical and luminous. Three generations of women follow their hearts and find betrayal and the pain of loss. A father and daughter reconnect and, in the end, there is hope and healing. Set in present day London in an old hotel where a ghost keeps the guests awake at night and a wayward rabbit makes reception its home. A young girl searches for the Third Angel, the angel on earth who will renew her faith.
19/07 - After reading The Dovekeepers I was eager to read more of Alice Hoffman's work, but 69 pages into The Third Angel I'm wishing I'd chosen a different Hoffman book first, because as much as The Dovekeepers urged me to read more Hoffman, The Third Angel, so far, has had the opposite effect. I wanted and expected to love it like I did The Dovekeepers, which I gave 5 stars, but I don't see how you can love a book when you hate the character from whose point of view the story is told. Maddy is a younger sister who has a giant chip on her shoulder; all she does is whine about the way her sister got everything and she got nothing and contemplate the dreadful way she treated her mother and sister as a young child and teenager - stealing her sister's belongings, forcing her cancer survivor mother to work harder because of her actions. She has almost no redeeming qualities and I feel like anything bad that happens to her now is just karma coming back to bite her. She believes that she is second best in their mother's eyes and this has lead her to feel no love, and maybe even hate, toward her. She sees Allie, her older by 13 months sister, as the good daughter, despite the fact that Allie went away to college while Maddy stayed home with their mother, Lucy. Maddy was the one who came home for the holidays and birthdays, while Allie stayed at college. Now the roles have reversed and Maddy tries to avoid human contact, enjoys sitting alone in her New York apartment looking out at the people going about their lives and hating and envying them equally. I'm hoping that when the narrator changes to Allie and Maddy's mother Lucy and her story that I will enjoy listening to her voice more than Maddy's. I see Maddy's voice as being spiteful and selfish, the likelihood that I'll read till the end will increase if Lucy's voice is more sympathetic. To be continued... 22/07 - A few pages after my last review Maddy stopped doing the talking and it changed to Allie, who I found much easier to listen to. Her part of the story was tragic - realising she wasn't in love with her boyfriend but being unable to walk away from him because of his sudden cancer diagnosis and then feeling compelled to accept his marriage proposal only to watch him die the morning after your wedding day. Now she's a widow after being married only 12 hours, or less. To be continued... 2/08 - In my opinion Lucy had the best story, I found it more interesting than either Frieda or Maddy/Allie's stories and she was the most sympathetic of the four featured women. On the back of the edition I read there was a quote from a review that said something about the book being about women who made bad choices and then having to live with them. I don't think that the choices of a 12-year-old girl should be considered to be the choices of a 'woman', so maybe that's where Lucy's likability and my extra bit of sympathy towards her comes from - the fact that I don't think Lucy should feel more than a smidgen of responsibility for the consequences of her actions. She's 12, even if she was of the more intelligent variety of pre-teens, she's not capable of forseeing the consequences of her actions or stopping herself from doing them. While I was reading Lucy's story I found myself wanting to go back to Frieda and Maddy/Allie's stories to check connections between characters (or their descendants) in later stages of their lives. I almost want to go back and read it back-to-front - read Lucy's story, then Frieda's and finish with Maddy/Allie's, because I feel like I might have missed some of the connections. It's kind of like playing 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, but you can't remember who all the people connected to Kevin Bacon are.
I am addicted to Alice Hoffman! This the 3rd book of hers I have read in the last 3 weeks! I especially loved the characters in this book. Each had its own sad, beautiful story. Even the minor characters had depth. Hoffman knits the characters into a "shawl" as they play a part in each other's history. To describe the way this book made me feel is impossible. I found myself in all of the locations, experiencing the events as if I were part of them. And yet, there was more.... Hoffman is a great study for those who wish to pursue writing seriously.
I read this for book group and found it an interesting read. Not one i would have picked up otherwise, but i recommend it.
I think this is the best Alice Hoffman book I've read so far, one of those stories that is so beautifully put together that it gives you a chill on the last page. When I was finished I sat down and started it over again, just to get my head around the relationships between the various characters.
zeroonetwo thinks this title is suitable for 50 years and over
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