The Wave Theory of Angels by Alison McLeod

The big question: can you die from an excess of emotion?
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The Independent Culture

In 13th century France, Giles, the father of Christina and Marguerite, is a heretical stonemason daring to believe that man can create forms as beautiful as any of God's creations. In 21st- century America, Giles is a physicist challenging received notions of the dimensions of space. Both are widowers with two daughters. Both see their older girl slip unaccountably into a coma.

In a narrative that weaves science with mystery, justified faith with prejudice, McLeod considers the effect of the loss on both families. Although parallels between the two tales can become laboured, with names needlessly repeated to hammer home similarities, the overall effect is of an unfolding thriller in which the big question is whether one can die of an excess of emotion. In a narrative that reflects the wave of the novel's title or the strings of the contemporary scientist's cosmic theory, events are as blurred across time as the characters. The disappointing side-effect of such a contrived structure is that the protagonists remain essentially unsympathetic.