“ Author: Polly Williams / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 02 February 2012 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Headline Publishing Group / Title: The Angel at No. 33 / ISBN 13: 9780755358878 / ISBN 10: 0755358878 „
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I have been a fan of Polly Williams since her first book The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy, but have had so many books in my pile her last few seem to have passed me by. However when I saw The Angel at No.33 reduced to £2.48 in my local Morrison's I decided it was worth breaking the book buying ban for!
After leaving a Tapas bar after a night out with her best friend Jenny on a wet night, Sophie spots an empty taxi in the distance on a rainy London night. With the bravado of a few drinks inside her, she utters the words 'I'm going to get this cab if it kills me', right before she is mown down and killed by a bus. Sophie doesn't feel dead though, she attends her own funeral and still feels she has much to do. She has a beloved husband, Ollie and her son Freddie who both need her. There is a secret she has been keeping from Jenny, that she desperately wants her to know. ...
I was really interested to see how The Angel at No.33 was going to pan out. I was a bit concerned that the story was going to take a Cecelia Ahearn type fantastical /supernatural road, and was really pleased when it didn't. Although the main character was a ghost, there was something very real about Sophie. Her role is really as a narrator of the piece, looking in on the people she loves as they try to carry on without her. Her chapters are in the first person as she gives her observations on what she sees, where everyone else's chapters are in the third person, which is an unusual style but isn't confusing.
I really liked the scene where all her friends get together to form an action group to support Ollie and Freddie, when she observes how different her single life and mummy friends are - which I think most Mums can relate to. However their love for Sophie manages to keep them all together. Looking at the way death affects people outside the immediate family gives the book a refreshing perspective. Although I really liked Jenny, sometimes I wanted to give her a shake and stop her being such a doormat - however I think she was deliberately written like that as that seemed to be what Sophie wanted to do but didn't want to hurt her.
I love the way that this book never gets too maudlin. Although there are some sad and touching parts, there are also bits that made me laugh out loud. Sophie often makes some witty and cutting observations, and I will never look at a lasagne the same way again. I couldn't put it down once I started it, and got through it in less than two days. Once I had finished I felt like I had been on a real emotional rollercoaster. I did find the ending of the book was a bit predictable, but this doesn't take anything away from how good this book is - The ending was the right one, and gives it a satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed The Angel at No.33, and felt sad to have finished it. It is definitely a book I will be passing on, and would really recommend it!
Published by Headline Review. 433 pages. Available from Amazon for £4.19 delivered or £4.49 for download.
I had never read any books by Polly Williams until a lovely friend of my contacted me last week to say she had just finished a fantastic book and was going to send it to me, this book being The Angel at No33 by Polly Williams.
I have to be honest if I had looked at this book in the shop I would have picked it up as I love the cover the colours that are used are very easy on the eye, but I think if I had read the synopsis I don't think I would have read this book as I have read a couple of books where the main character is dead and I just didn't find them enjoyable. This was not the case with this book though.
We meet our main character Sophie just as she has been run over by a bus which sounds like a very morbid opening to a book but funny enough although Sophie has just died she manages to lighten the tone by making witty remarks so instantly I was gripped as I am one who enjoys a good bit of humour when it is least expected! Sophie cannot rest and watches over her loved ones and see them all cope in their own ways with losing a wife, mum and friend. We also get to see from the living side how each of the characters are dealing with their grief and we also start to get more of an insight to Sophie and Ollie's relationship which it seems everyone was envious of.
I found that although there was very emotional situations in this book especially revolving around Sophie's son who not only is deeply missing his mum but also is effected by his dad who is always so sad, there were also some great down to earth humour, especially involving the local mums who are going out of their way to help Ollie but who often ends up with a number of similar gifts!
Polly Williams has a beautiful writing style which manages to bring the emotions of each character out in the reader and it is a topic which is close to us all as we all would feel the same as Sophie wanting to know our loved ones were settled and safe before we can rest and I am sure most of us have all experienced a great loss and so can connect with Jenny, Ollie and Freddie.
This book is definitely worth picking up as it will bring out all kinds of emotions and it is a real page turner. Thank you to Kayla for sending me this book with you enthusiastic recommendation!
this review is also on amazon and www.reabookreview.blogspot.com
'Am I dead? I don't feel dead...' Sophie cannot leave the people she loves. Her husband, Ollie - a man who once watered a houseplant for a year before realising it was plastic - is lost without her. Their son Freddie is so little. And her friend Jenny? There's something she desperately needs to know before it's too late. Some love stories never end.
I am a real Polly Williams fan, I've read each of her books and loved all of them. Williams has a knack of writing real women's fiction, stories that women can really relate to and I think that's what draws me to them each time. Her sixth and latest book, The Angel at No. 33 has a gorgeous cover, turquoise and white which is quite eye-catching, but it's the inside which intrigued me most of all. Williams has chosen to abandon her very realistic stories, and write this from the point of view of a dead woman, Sophie. I was a little worried that it'd turn into something Cecelia Ahern-esque and have a magical element which I'm not keen on, but this book was compassionate, moving, emotional and beautifully written, and had me captivated at every page.
Sophie is pretty happy with her life. She's happily married to gorgeous husband Ollie, is mum to young son Freddie and has the best friend in the world in Jenny. However, when she's knocked over by a bus and killed, she wakes up staring at herself lying in the road, and then ends up following her family and friends as they adjust to life with Sophie, and watches events unfold in a way none of us would ever be privvy to. Ollie starts to fall apart, unsure of what to do with life without his wife, Freddie is missing his mum terribly, and Jenny is not only missing her friend, but struggling in her own relationship too. Sophie, however, can't commute with her nearest and dearest, and instead has to watch them muddle through as best they can. As I said, I was worried this plot really wouldn't work, but it more than did - it was a beautifully written and enjoyable, although at times upsetting tale.
As a mum, my worst nightmare is exactly what happened to Sophie, and leaving my little boy behind. Williams manages to perfectly capture Sophie's helplessness and desperation at leaving her young family, her feelings of loss and heartache are worded so that it hits you hard, and I found the scenes of her watching her son Freddie quite upsetting to read, imagining myself in Sophie's position all too often. As well as writing the pain from Sophie's point of view, Williams manages to convey the sorrow widower Ollie is feeling, how he struggles with the simplest tasks like cleaning the house to his emotional pain at losing his wife, Jenny's guilt and pain over Sophie's death, and how she has to deal with those Sophie left behind and the worry over the cracks in her own relationship. Each character is carved out perfectly, created to be a real person with real emotions and feelings that are portrayed perfectly by Williams.
Although it's a very emotional read, there are some funny moments as well, and those stop the book from becoming too maudlin and downbeat. Sophie makes some funny observations from her viewpoint of hovering over everyone, and a few things that happen along do have you smiling and giggling, even though you think you perhaps shouldn't be! They really lighten the mood, and are very necessary for the book. I have to say all of Sophie's "mum friends" are great characters too, and I like the way that they reveal a different side to Sophie's life that Jenny doesn't know about, and through getting to know each other, they all find out something new about their mutual friend, and it goes to show how we show different people different sides of ourselves as to how we want people to perceive us, and in that respect it's very on the money. It also shows how differently people deal with death, and I felt Williams covered this really well in the book.
Overall, I feel this book is incredibly well written and deals with a very emotive topic with sensitivity, compassion and heart. There were realistic characters in Ollie, Jenny and Freddie, and they each represent how we as humans are deeply affected by the sudden death of our loved ones. The inclusions of Sophie as a spirit type figure is intriguing but actually works really well, and provides (oddly) a little light relief to stop the story from being too bogged down in sadness. I loved every page, and enjoyed that there was plenty going on with stories about Ollie, Jenny and the dealing with Sophie's passing as well. If you've recently lost a loved one, this book might be a bit close to the bone for you, but even if you haven't, it's an emotive read that'll have you crying and laughing alongside each other. Really well written and incredibly enjoyable, this is one to definitely add to your list!
ISBN: 978-0755358878. Published by Headline Review on 2nd February 2012. Pages: 352. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.