A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS by R. J. Ellory
“Writing can be an exorcism of fear and of hatred; it can be a way to overcome prejudice and pain. At least if you can write you have a chance to express yourself…you can put your thoughts out into the world, and regardless of whether anyone actually reads them or understands them they are no longer trapped inside of you. Bottle them up…and one day you’re likely to just explode.”
Review by Eleanor Bukowsky (OCT 10, 2009)
R. J. Ellory’s A Quiet Belief in Angels is the heartrending story of Joseph Vaughn, a boy who grows up under an unlucky star. The narrator is only eleven when his thirty-seven year old father, Earl, dies in 1939, leaving him and his impoverished young mother to fend for themselves. Earl’s death leaves Joseph and his mother deeply shaken. The boy is further traumatized when a classmate is found dead, after having been stripped, beaten, and assaulted by an unknown perpetrator. This girl’s murder is just the first in a long string of calamities that will dog Augusta Falls, Georgia, where Joseph and his mother live. The specter of death constantly haunts this tragic tale of hopes dashed and innocent lives snuffed out prematurely.
The author eloquently and vividly evokes the atmosphere of rural Georgia before the Second World War, where people make do with very little, gossip is a way of life, neighbors help neighbors, and outsiders are never fully accepted. There was “a richness in friendship and community” that helped compensate for a lack of material wealth. Joseph, who is highly intelligent, sensitive, and imaginative, is given a much-needed boost by his beloved teacher, Miss Webber, who encourages him to become an avid reader and try his hand at creative writing.
This multi-faceted novel blends disparate elements that do not always smoothly coexist. Side by side with scenes of gothic horror are poignant romantic encounters. Humor and tragedy intermingle freely. Although Joseph benefits from a few close friendships, he also endures unspeakable betrayals. Throughout, he recalls in flashback the high and lows of his tumultuous life. Vaughn is a three-dimensional protagonist who holds this somewhat sprawling book together when it is in danger of sinking under its own weight. In an electrifying conclusion, Joseph decides that it is his responsibility to mete out punishment on behalf of the many people whose lives have been ruined by a psychopathic and manipulative villain. It is likely that Ellory tries to do too much in this murder mystery/ coming-of-age story/ exploration of family angst/ and study of small town life. Still, A Quiet Belief in Angels has a gripping quality that draws us in and keeps us on tenterhooks until it culminates in an explosive confrontation between good and evil.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 38 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Overlook Hardcover (September 8, 2009)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||R. J. Ellory|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||More Georgia novels:
Ravens by George Dawes Green
Swan by Frances Maye
In the Dark of the Moon by Suzanne Hudson
Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
And a new novel by RJ Ellory:
- Candlemoth (2003)
- Ghostheart (2004)
- A Quiet Vendetta (2005)
- City of Lies (2006)
- A Quiet Belief in Angels (2007; September 2009 in US)
- A Simple Act of Violence (2008; June 2011)
- The Anniversary Man (2009; June 2010 in US)