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Men and Angels Mass Market Paperback – March 12, 1986


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (March 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345329252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345329257
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gordon introduces the reader to women who form an "enabling chain": Caroline imparts strength to her daughter-in-law Jane, who befriends Anne, who cheers up teenage babysitter Laura. But when Laura becomes "born again" and tries to "save" Anne, a successful woman who nonetheless has a streak of self-loathing, disaster looms. Although Anne's self-pity wearies, as a whole the book succeeds "on the strength of Gordon's plunging insights into the nature of mother love, family relationships, ambition and responsibility," PW observed.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

Anne Foster's husband is in France. She has stayed behind in their small college town with her two young children -- whom she loves with an intensity that awes her -- to finish writing the catalogue for a major exhibition of the work of American Impressionist painter Caroline Watson. As she delves into Caroline's life, Anne sees a side of "mother love" she'd never fathomed. Meanwhile, Anne's live-in babysitter, Laura Post, is obsessed with a different kind of love. She sees herself as one of God's chosen and believes she has been sent to "save" Anne and her children, whether they want it or not . . .

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm in the midst of this book, and am savoring it. Mary Gordon's use of the language makes me able to read Men and Angels at a more measured pace than what I usually have == her phrasing is so precise and her scenes and characters are jarringly familiar.
She describes the intensity of mother love so well, how all consuming it is when your children are small, how there's no question that you treasure them above life itself -- of course they're more important than anything.
I love also the way she looks at the mystery of how someone can be a good parent to one child but not another. How bereft a child in such a situation feels, and how angry the parent -- for not living up to such a basic requirement and instinct -- loving one's own child well enough. I also love the way she paints Laura, the young babysitter whose mother hated her, who believes herself to be beloved by God, who despises every adult except Anne, the book's central figure, and who is clearly going to do something awful. Laura is so despicable and so pitious at the same time that you don't know what to do with her.
It's interesting that psychology has in recent years verified Gordon's view, with the experts saying that yes, the personalities of parents and children sometimes don't mesh, and can get in the way of a good enough relationship. It's something that people took for granted in earlier centuries, but in the past 100 years or so, of course it's unforgivable to not love your children equally.
This is a wonderful book about love and the human condition, and I'd be still reading it now except that I read for the past hours on a Sunday afternoon, read until I'm seeing everything double, and squinting to see the print.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Giles on December 15, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can't understand why no one has reviewed this book either so I thought that I'd lend you some support by posting a couple of words.
I think this is Mary Gordon's best book but what makes if good is also what makes it different from her other novels - the babysitter narrative gives this book a darker thriller aspect which balances Gordon's usual narrative. The result is a book you can't put down and a must read if you have't picked it up yet.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can hardly believe I'm the only person to review this book. I often check this page simply because I am so curious to hear other people's views on a novel that has stayed with me for over nine years. It is an intense and thoughtful study of women, art, religon, and motherhood...unsettling and disturbing at times, but richly wriiten and full of intriguing characters. I would urge anyone who has found Ms. Gordon's later work somewhat unsatsifying to look into this provocative novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Whitlock on July 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anne Foster, a faculty wife who has put her own career on hold, has recently returned to work and is compiling the catalog for an upcoming exhibition of painter Caroline Watson. Her job entails several days of travel each week so she must find someone to watch her two young children. With some misgivings, she hires Laura Post, a disturbed young woman with a troubled past.

This is a complex book that explores the balance of meaningful work and motherhood in women's lives. As Anne researches the life of Caroline Watson, she discovers striking parallels with her own life. Most of the major characters in the book work from choice rather than necessity. Some, such as Watson, driven by genius, easily put the work first. Others, like Anne's neighbor, devote themselves to their children. Anne uneasily tries to balance the two.

Mary Gordon has a great eye for character. She has sympathy for those on the margin of society, such as Laura and Helene, one of the professors at the University. Her characters are not at all simplistic but a mix of good, bad, and sometimes downright irritating qualities.

If you want a challenging, thought-provoking novel, which is beautifully written, I recommend this book.
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julio on March 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The novel is about a couple who hired a babysitter without an interview first.The lady keeps complaining to her husband about being busy, and not having the time to take care of other things.
The couple keeps moving from one place of location to another, and they will move with the babysitter too.
The couple have arguments with the babysitter on how to raise their children. The babysitter thinks she has been sent by God so she has to raise the children in a religious way, which leads the novel to be interesting and intriguing to the reader.
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