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In the Company of Angels: A Novel (Copenhagen Quartet) Hardcover – March 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“In the Company of Angels is powerful and of the moment … Kennedy writes clean, evocative prose, and an occasional note of humor leavens this dark novel. He is a writer to be reckoned with, and it's about time the reckoning got underway in the country of his birth.” ―Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“[An] ensnaring and original novel…. Kennedy doesn't heap on the misery in order (or not only) to create a compelling psycho-melodrama. He is serious about wanting to get at -- dig down to -- what it is that makes people do unspeakable things…. caring about characters' fates makes a hands-down more engaging read than most of the desperately cool ego trips published these days. "In the Company of Angels" is simply an unforgettable novel. Its tongue is not tucked up safely in its cheek.” ―Kai Maristed, Los Angeles Times
“[A] wide-ranging and assured novel….The stories of torture that emerge…offer, in their horror and dignity, a quiet criticism of the characters with more prosaic problems.” ―The New Yorker
“In the Company of Angels is a novel about grown-ups, people battered and dinged by life, painfully aware of their own responsibility, whose understanding of their past never stops evolving. It's the dignity of their adulthood -- the elusive prize at stake in any midlife crisis -- that makes them so admirable and, above all, so moving.” ―Laura Miller, Salon.com
“Thomas E. Kennedy is nothing if not a risk-taker…and (In the Company of Angels) is a gripping read…Kennedy's book is a brave one.” ―Emily Carter, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“It probably doesn't reflect glowingly on American expat Kennedy's native country that this watershed novel is the first to be published in the U.S. after a decade of acclaim abroad. Why it's taken so long is anyone's guess, as there's plenty to admire in the serpentine unwinding of troubled protagonists adrift in contemporary Copenhagen.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is the first volume of the series to be published in the U.S. If its stellar quality is any indication, the entire quartet promises to be an exceptional reading experience … This novel offers much more than just a beautiful writing style. Each character's story is so undeniably interesting that the reader gains a sense of the wonder of disparate lives with unpredictable but intriguing connections.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Kennedy writes with unusual insight and compassion, depicting the best and the worst of the human experience. His work may be new to U.S. readers, but it merits greater attention, and we should look forward to seeing the other three books in his quartet published here. A great choice for readers of literary fiction.” ―Library Journal
“Expatriate American author Kennedy finally gets the major U.S. release merited by his European reviews with this third volume of his Copenhagen Quartet … An artfully written story with a conscience.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“[This novel] lacks nothing … Kennedy is a master craftsman.” ―Books Ireland
“Tragic, wise, comic, profound … An epic of the human heart struggling for meaning and redemption.” ―Literary Review
“A glorious novel by a modern master.” ―Irish Edition
“Rich and intense… There are no literary pyrotechnics here, just good storytelling that we all have a right to demand from our authors. [It is] a performance you will seldom come across, and one that will stay with you for some time.” ―Michael Lee, The Barnstable Patriot
“Although it is a novel about loss, In the Company of Angels is also about the redemption of hope through love… (Kennedy's) many admirers will welcome this first mainstream U.S. novel publication. This is a matter for celebration and surely marks the beginning of another stage in his distinguished career.” ―Thomas McCarthy, New Letters: A Magazine of Writing & Art
“Redemptive and powerful storytelling… In the midst of a heartless world, this story has heart.” ―Dave Moyer, New York Journal of Books
“Thomas E. Kennedy is an astonishment, and In the Company of Angels is as elegant as it is beautiful, as important as it is profound. A marvel of a read.” ―Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“With generous and elegant prose, Kennedy takes us from the darkest, most violent regions of our collective behavior to our most exalted...A deeply stirring novel, suffused with intelligence, grace, and that rarest of qualities--wisdom.” ―Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
“A terrible, wonderful, horrible, truthful, heartbreaking, and heart-mending book. The word masterpiece should never be used lightly, but [In the Company of Angels] is exactly that, a masterpiece written by a master. How can anyone know so much about the human heart?” ―Duff Brenna, author of The Book of Mamie, The Willow Man, Too Cool, The Altar of the Body, and The Holy Book of the Beard
“In the Company of Angels is both a riveting examination of the violence we've come to take for granted, and an unsentimental, morally complex love story. Thomas Kennedy tackles the darkest of subjects, but with searing precision and grace, and with such feeling for ordinary humanity, that this book is full of light. It's the sort of novel that reminds me why novels are important.” ―Rene Steinke, author of Holy Skirts
“Thomas E. Kennedy's In the Company of Angels is a beautiful love story, a testimony to the human spirit, an important message to our world of darkness that the spark of light cannot be extinguished.... The setting, the descriptions, the complex relationship between Michela and Voss, Michela's love for her parents, the professional dedication of Thorkild Kristensen... All of this, the many brilliantly interwoven plot lines, the composition of the chapters, contribute to making the book truly difficult to put down. And the writing is stunning.” ―Susan Tiberghiehn, Founder and Director, Geneva Writers Conference; Author of One Year to a Writing Life and Looking for Gold
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel's main protagonists are Bernardo Greene and Michela Ibsen.
Bernardo was a teacher in his native Chile before fleeing to Copenhagen after gaining freedom from his captors and torturers. A victim of trumped up charges, he had lost his family, his trust for most human beings, and his sense of self-worth.
Michela is a beautiful 40-ish Danish woman who has also experienced pain: the loss of an only child, and a failed marriage to a man who had physically abused her. Now caring for her hospital-bound parents who are in their sunset years, and dating a much younger man, she finds herself curiously drawn to Bernardo when they first met in a cafe, and Bernardo, clearly smitten with her, had summoned the courage to ask her to dance with him.
That Bernardo was initially hesitant, even fearful, to approach Michela is understandable. He is still fighting demons from his past, and although he has been getting help from Dr. Kristensen, he has not progressed enough in the healing process to risk hurting himself even more, or Michela, who may not find him "man enough" for her.
Michela is similarly conflicted. Does she deserve the love of another man after her failed first marriage? Why is she having these kinds of doubts when she knows she has a lot to offer?Read more ›
There is no laughter or moments of lightness. Intimacy through sex and shared pain are presented as the means to closeness. When I finished reading, I felt as if I had journeyed into the Inferno and only navigated from its center to the doors of Purgatory. I wanted to listen to soul-stirring music or have a warm, healthy dialogue with a friend.
In the Company of Angels is primarily about two characters. Nardo, a victim of long-term torture in Chile, now living in Copenhagen, wonders, "How much of a survivor, in fact, survives?" Nardo survived torture in part due to an experience he had of angels visiting him. But the angel theme is only cursorily mentioned, and remains undeveloped.
Michela, a Danish victim of relationship abuse, whose daughter committed suicide, struggles with "Why do men hit me?" Nardo and Michela are drawn to each other and find some redemption in the sharing of pain.
Unfortunately, however, the novel takes multiple perspectives, also providing the viewpoints of Dr. Kristensen who is attempting to help Nardo, Michela's jealous young lover Voss, and her elderly father who lives in the same nursing home as her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. These characters are only incompletely presented, and in my opinion are uninteresting, distracting and unnecessary.Read more ›
The man, Bernardo Greene, a former teacher, is indeed far away and alone, having fled his native Chile after his family has disappeared and he himself tortured for daring to teach the work of poets who write the truth. Traumatized by literally unspeakable violence, he has come for healing to Copenhagen's famous Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, where his doctor tries to break through the wall between him and his emotions. The woman, Michela Ibsen, divorced from an abusive husband, now finds herself once more in a potentially violent relationship, and does not know how to break free. We already know a great deal about Nardo and Michela, and there will be many obstacles to overcome before they can truly help one another. But this unlikely encounter, in a dance from the opposite side of the globe that balances intimacy and solitude, violence and passion, marks a perfect turning-point. Even the setting, in a city square dedicated to the Danish resistance of WW2, is meaningful.
The extremes in this novel are tempered by touches of almost everything in between.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This a beautiful novel of very human, often sad, and always compelling characters. To me, the author raises a story that could have been a real downer to a level of great beauty... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Marvin
Takes about 100 pages to really establish itself but the second half becomes quite strong.Published 14 months ago by Christopher Kelsey
unusual novel,, written so you will deeply feel the life and healing process of characters. If you have ever been a prisoner of any thing you will feel this book.Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
Awesome!!! Highly recommend it for anyone to read! Thomas is an incredibly talented writer and he never disappoints! Loved it!Published 23 months ago by navy mom
Profound use of words and terrific use of copenhagen. I have read this book in the summertime in Copenhagen overlooking the gardens at Frederiksberg.Published on July 19, 2013 by stiegsalander
This was a novel, at once quite disturbing and then again quite enlightening. It takes place inCopenhagen, after the survivor, Nardo had been tortured by Pinochet for teaching... Read morePublished on April 7, 2013 by prisrob
This is a book you won't forget. I have already read it twice. The characters are rich, and real, and definitely unforgettable.Published on February 18, 2013 by suzieQ
Exiled Chilean torture victim sees Danish shrink for trauma treatment. It is difficult to get anything done, the patient shuts himself up. The fear is not over, nor his paranoia. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by H. Schneider
This was a ''fantastic'' book, but entirely too long and unassociated. The story of Nardo and Michela was great, but too much info about the boyfriend, the doctor, and the father. Read morePublished on November 25, 2012 by Mary C.