The Third Angel, by Alice Hoffman

23 May

This was the first book I’ve read from novelist   Alice Hoffman.  Initially I came across her books on Amazon and they sounded interesting so I added them.  I have several of her books on my “books to read” list, but since this was the one my local library had, this is what I got.  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before, but that’s okay, she’s probably never heard of me either.

The Third Angel follows three women’s lives as they flow together and apart, linked by the same tragic love story and mysterious ghost ~ The Third Angel.

The story is told in reverse order, which I have to say was a little confusing for me.  In my defense, I didn’t read the book every day.  And like most books I’m reading, I’m lucky if I get a few minutes on my lunch hour to read and then a few more right before bed.  I usually have to re-read a few pages just to remember what’s going on in the story.  Such is my life and the reason I get lost in the stories sometimes.  And not that I’m calling Ms. Hoffman out, but I think some authors write as though we’re going to open the front cover and not close it again until we’ve finished every last page.  Not my case, and I doubt it’s your case either.  Having said that, I enjoyed this book.  I won’t say I loved it, but it was good.

Each woman is at a crossroad in her life.  The first, New York attorney Madeline arrives in London in 1999 after having had an affair with her sister Allie’s fiancé, Paul.  Maddy is faced with coping with the impending marriage, and with Paul’s terminal illness – which echoes the girls’ mother’s cancer during their childhood.

Part II focuses on 1966 London and to Frieda, Paul’s future mother, who falls for a drug-addicted songwriter on the rise knowing he will break her heart.

And finally, Part III takes us back to 1952 to Maddy and Allie’s future mother.  Lucy is 12-year-old well wise beyond her years.  She spends her time with her nose in a book and doing her best to tolerate her father’s new wife.  They sail from New York to London for a wedding and while there, Lucy becomes innocently involved in a love triangle that can only have a devastating end.

Each woman faces up to her challenges in her own way, proving that everyone in the end is responsible for his or her own destiny.  What Ms. Hoffman does is remind us we are all hurt and broken, stumbling through life and fumbling for love, but sometimes we can still find the way to where we want to go.

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