Monday, 6 February 2012
Book review: Angel, by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Holland Park Press (September 24, 2011)
Source: Gift from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Angel, a new novel by the author of King of Tuzla and Yugoslav Requiem.
Many people have plenty of reasons to run away, but very few actually do it.
Timjen Klein Gildekamp is a jobbing writer living in a small provincial town. His world is lonely and stifling.
We find out why his father's war is still important to his life today and how the world has changed. Timjen has moved away from his roots, but not far enough, so he feels trapped.
When all seems lost, Angel comes to the rescue, but is she too late? They make an interesting pair: she the masseuse by day and singer by night, and he the committed writer of literature.
A surprise lottery win enables them to escape their dreary and oppressive everyday existence. During their flight, they experience a number of monotonous incidents in Spain and London, ending up on a remote Scottish island.
Timjen believes that, at the end of our life, what remains of us is love, but is he right?
Angel is a novel about expectations, failures and the fragility of our existence.
There are few things in life that I enjoy more than discovering brilliant authors and reading books that make me think and I discovered both qualities in Angel, by Arnold Jansen op de Haar. The book is beautifully written and the tone is wonderfully eloquent.
I was immediately transported into the landscape of the story from the very first page. I could almost feel the heat of the Spanish sun on my skin and taste the richness of the Spanish wine; "dark heavy wine that clung to your glass when you swirled it around."
Angel is a heartfelt, honest story about a man who believes that he has failed in his life and wants to run away from everything that he has known. "During his life so far he had fled twice: this was the second time. The reason was the same: to escape the person he could never be." The words are powerful and resonated strongly with me. Who hasn't felt like running away from life at some point?
Timjen, the main character, tells his story in a very poignant way. There is a sense of all-pervading loneliness and isolation about Timjen's life. "He was just about able to handle visitors six times a year and this included the man reading the utilities meter." I appreciated the author's wry sense of humour. Although the book has quite a sombre tone, it was never depressing. The author has a unique and insightful writing style. Every page I turned made me want to find out more about him and his love interest Angel.
I absolutely loved this book and I would highly recommend it.