I came across Gabriel’s Angel whilst gently browsing Amazon during my lunch break. Being an unashamed name geek I was drawn in by the name Gabriel on the front cover, a name that causes conflict in my mind every time I come across it. Reading the description I decide to surrender a couple of pounds and purchase a used copy. A decision I certainly don’t regret.
The setting for Gabriel’s Angel is interesting. The premise is a therapy group in a space just below heaven. This therapy group comprises of dead and nearly dead people who are there to talk about their lives and establish whether they go to heaven or back to their lives, or end up in the depths of hell. The plot looks at the lives of these people before and after their deaths.
The eponymous Gabriel is grieved to find himself in a coma and in therapy, stating more than once that he must have already gone to hell. With his partner Ellie, he was going through IVF before he was hit by a car. His plotline also follows Ellie’s attempts to finish the IVF process. Julie, the woman who ran Gabriel over, is also in the group. Her guilt rings through for doing this to Gabriel. Her love life pans out on Earth whilst she is unconscious and provides a lot of the humour within the novel. Yvonne was murdered by Kevin and both are unhappy to find the other is present in the therapy group. The interplay between these two is interesting and humorous but sometimes gets a little straining.
The two angels, Clemitius and Christopher are very different characters and play increasingly estranged roles in the plot. Their character development was one of the highlights of the book for me. I like that the book doesn’t necessarily prescribe to definite boundaries of good and bad and this is something that is particularly evident where the angels are concerned.
An engaging, emotional and thought-provoking read. I laughed at times, felt twisted knots of sorrow in my stomach and genuinely hoped that in the end these characters would find solace. This is the best book of my challenge so far and a book I will remember and think of for a long time yet.