Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Visiting Angel - Paul Wilson

Why didn't I know anything about this book?  I never read a review, never saw it mentioned on here, and it was published in 2012, so it's been on the radar (but not mine) for 3 years.  I can't say it's everyone's cup of tea, and certainly the cover would not have attracted me.

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A very satisfying read for me, bringing together what you might call lost souls.  Patrick, running a charitable halfway house for people with mental problems; Sarah, a nurse who lost her child in an accident; Edward and Lillian, both with their own special problems and former residents of the halfway home.  Into this mix throw a pregnant Angolan woman and her daughter, and Saul, with no shoes, a pocket full of peanuts and who swears he is an angel with a special task to perform.  How these characters have come to where they are now has meant that  they have each had a hard path to tread, and are still finding the journey arduous.  Slowly, slowly the story of each life is revealed.  The chapters are rather long and contain more than one subject at a time, sometimes with only an extra line between paragraphs.  But stick with it, as the story of each life is revealed.  Saul has only a few days to get things right, and it is unclear until very near the end what that task is.  When revealed, I found myself holding my breath.    I gained an insight into mental health and the way "the system" deals with it these days, too, and as the author has worked in a range of social care settings, it's obvious he is describing what he has come across in his working life.  Not a light read, but a very worthwhile one, and it came together wonderfully at the end.