Tindal Street Press £7.99
The Visiting Angel, By Paul Wilson
A man on the ledge of heaven
Sunday 05 February 2012
I must confess that I had never heard of Paul Wilson until I was sent this to review, but The Visiting Angel is his sixth novel and on the strength of it alone, he deserves to be much, much better known.
It's a complex, engrossing story with a tight cast of solid, four-dimensional characters, each with their own mysteries and histories. There is Sarah, an overworked nurse with a daughter who's dead and a marriage that's dying; and Patrick, a social worker who runs a halfway house in Salford, who is called out to talk a man down from a hospital ledge. The man, Saul, wears a dark suit and white plimsolls, is a drug addict and claims to be an angel. Patrick knew him long ago under a different name.
The story is so full of surprises that I have to be careful not to give too much away. Let's just say that nothing is quite what it seems. The writing is un-showoff-y but compelling; the setting is realist, down-to-earth, but with a defamiliarising strangeness. Most of all, this is a novel with heart, that makes you feel and sympathise with human sadness and frailty. There's something deeply unsnobbish about it. Many novelists prefer to write about clever characters (they're easier) and Wilson has a fine clever character in Saul, but he's just as at home writing about ordinary, averagely educated people or dim, disadvantaged people, and showing that their lives are as full of drama, emotion and mystery as anybody's.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader