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09 January 2010

Book Review: Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes

Title: Angel and Apostle
Author: Deborah Noyes
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: September 10, 2006
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-1-932961-29-4
Genre: Fiction


About the Book:

At the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, we know that Pearl, the elf-child daughter of Hester Prynne, is somewhere in Europe, comfortable, well set, a mother herself now. But it could not have been easy for her to arrive at such a place, when she begins life as the bastard child of a woman publicly humiliated, again and again, in an unrelentingly judgmental Puritan world.

With a brilliant and authentic sense of that time and place, Deborah Noyes envisions the path Pearl takes to make herself whole and to carve her place in the New World. Beautifully written with boundless compassion, Angel and Apostle is a heart-rending and imaginative debut in which Noyes masterfully makes Hawthorne’s character her own.

My Review:

As a reader I find it amazing how such a beautifully complex and multi-layered story can be Deborah Noyes' first novel. Noyes takes up the story of The Scarlet Letter seamlessly where Nathaniel Hawthorne left off, with the story of Hester Prynne's daughter Pearl. Angel and Apostle is told from the perspective of Pearl, beginning with her childhood memories in Boston and her mother's Scarlet A, which she still must wear and the burden it carries for them both. Most of Pearl's memories are not fond ones as she recounts her early years in Puritan New England as well as her and her mother's rushed departure to London. Sadly London does not bring much more joy to Pearl as she recounts her and her mother's lives in London, her inheritance and marriage and with sadness her own mother's choice to return to the only place she feels she belongs although still not accepted, New England. Pearl's life as a wife and mother in many ways reflect those of Hester's leaving the reader to wonder if Pearl will head Hester's advice to never leave her daughter Abigail's side or if history is doomed to repeat itself. With vibrant descriptions one feels as though one is living amongst the Puritans of New England, seeing, hearing and smelling as they do. Noyes captured the art of the speech and so richly has her narrator described Pearl's life as a feared outcast, a lonely child and woman desperate for attention and love. Abandoned time and again and forced to grow up far too quickly, Pearl's story makes such a compelling read I was loath to put the book down and quite saddened when the story ended, as I would like to know what happens next. Angel and Apostle is a brilliant novel in its own right or a wonderful and creative continuation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Angel and Apostle can easily be enjoyed without any knowledge of Hawthorne's work, however, it is such a brilliant tale in its own right, and I would be rather remiss not to recommend his book as well. Angel and Apostle is so beautifully written I look forward to re-reading it time and again and cannot give enough praise to this remarkable novel.

About the Author:

Angel and Apostle is Deborah Noyes’ first novel. Her short fiction and reviews have appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Boston Sunday Globe, Seventeen, The Washington Post Book World, The Chicago Sun-Times, Stories, The Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, The Bloomsbury Review, Boston Review, and other publications. She has also written and edited numerous books for children and young adults, including the award-winning teen anthology Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales.

I received a free copy of Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes from Unbridled Books. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



farfalla said...

WoooW, your Blog is miraculous! And your book image absolutely interesting... I will look sometimes whether there is this book also here in Germany. Many greetings

Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom said...

I am sold...I want this book! What a beautifully written review about a book that sounds equally beautifully written.

I will definitely put this at the top of my must read list.

Thank you!

The Muse said...

Thanks for sharing your insight!

Aleksandra said...

Great review! I'll definitely add this book on my list!

Kristi said...

Great review - I agree that I was amazed that it is her first book - I am looking forward to her next book which is due out later this spring (I think)