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.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Martin Scorsese 'in shock and sorrow' after death on set of new film Silence
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures