|The Angel at No. 33 by Polly Williams|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Recently dead Sophie lingers around her beloved family and friends (both best and the other sort), wondering how it will turn out. A festival of tears and laughter, you just need to provide chocolate.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: February 2012|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for Romantic Novelists Association Award 2013: Contemporary Romantic Novel
Sophie is the wife of disorganised Ollie (who watered a plastic plant for a year before realising), mother of typical little boy Freddie and she's dead. Yes, Sophie is very dead. During a wine-filled evening of moaning about her predictable lifestyle with her best friend Jenny, Sophie tries to stop a taxi in the worst way possible. The taxi stops but not quite soon enough.
Sophie's life force may be spent but she hovers in ghostly form. She witnesses Ollie falling apart for the want of a sign that Sophie loved him. She watches Jenny grieve whilst trying to help Ollie, despite Jenny's unsympathetic partner, Sam. Sophie also has to watch the women befriending Ollie with thinly disguised secret agendas. There are some things that are, perhaps, worse than death itself.
Author and journalist Polly Williams has written a book to read when the mood is right. That is, when the bloke in your life is out for the evening, when the children are tucked up in bed and you know the whereabouts of specially hidden chocolate. The main characters are so credible we all know them. Sophie and Ollie have the sort of marriage that most people develop after a few years together. They've stopped declaring their love at regular intervals and have started taking things for granted. This makes Sophie's death and Ollie's desperate search for confirmation that she wasn't a bored housewife more poignant and real. Best friend Jenny is also believable, bearing the guilt of being with Sophie when she died whilst trying to put into practice a deep seated urge to be there for her friend's family but feeling useless.
There are as many smiles and laughs as there are tears. Sophie's funeral, for instance, manages to mix both in the same way as the list that Sophie composes of the characteristics of the person who should be the next Mrs Ollie (a good trick, Ms Williams). If there are any criticisms, it's a bit predictable and feels a bit manipulative in places. However, predictable can also be comfortable. As an example, back at the chocolate, the taste is predictable but that doesn't make it any less delicious. Perhaps, in the end, that's what this book is – chocolate for the heart; a treat for yourself after spending your day treating everyone else.
I would like to thank Headline Review for giving Bookbag a copy of this book to review.
If you'd like to try another book with a hint of romance and ever-present ghosts, try Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Angel at No. 33 by Polly Williams at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Angel at No. 33 by Polly Williams at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.