- Hardcover: 164 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (April 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786866667
- ISBN-13: 978-0786866663
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,085,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
In the Company of Angels: A Novel Hardcover – April 1, 2001
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
Set in France during World War II, Kelby's debut novel is a luminous, harrowing tale of wartime horrors and miracles. When seven-year-old Marie Claire's village in France is bombed by the Germans, she survives by burying herself in the root cellar of her grandmother's house. Days later, Anne and Mother Xavier, two Belgian nuns working for the Resistance, rescue her and take her to their convent, near a town in which odd visions and minor miracles are everyday occurrences. Upon her arrival, even stranger things begin to happen: the girl gives off an odor of roses; light seems to emanate from her body; bruises emerge on her flesh. Intertwined with Marie Claire's story is the tale of a Nazi commander's doomed romance with Anne, and Mother Xavier's struggle to come to terms with the fact that her parents have been performing scientific experiments for the Germans. Striking, clear images give the novel a surreal cast: a room filled with doves; ants crawling over the hands of Anne's father, a chocolate maker, as he sits in the ruins of his bombed shop; or Marie Claire's feverish dream in which a mask maker who was her friend in life conducts a macabre puppet show beneath the destroyed village. Such flashes of sensual detail are made even more poignant when contrasted with the atrocities of the war, and Kelby's spare, elliptical prose effectively brings these moments to light, infusing the emotionally and spiritually loaded subject matter with an uncommon intimacy. Saints and Nazis may make strange bedfellows, but Kelby rises to the challenge with considerable command in a haunting debut that erodes the distinctions between waking and dreaming, faith and reason, life and death. Agent, Jo Fagan. (Apr. 4)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Delicate and operatic, In the Company of Angels reminds me of no one so much as Michael Ondaatje . . ." -- Stewart O'Nan, author of A World Away and A Prayer for the Dying
"Kelby makes her novel debut with a religious fable that will move some greatly...a skillful harvest of symbols." -- Kirkus
"Kelby weaves in and out of several character's heads, seamlessly melding fantasy and reality to create a seductive hallucinatory effect." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Kelby's...fairy tale exerts a subtle pull...the author suddenly stares unblinkingly into one corner of the heart of darkness." -- Entertainment Weekly
"N. M. Kelby has woven a lush tapestry of innocence and evil on a sturdy loom of miracles . . ." -- Faith Sullivan, author of What a Woman Must Do
"[An] impressive debut . . . Kelby . . . displays a rarefied sense of craft throughout this meticulously constructed novel." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
This remarkable debut novel... Kelby's lovely language fuses sensuous specificity with metaphoric resonance -- New York Times Book, May 6, 2001
Top customer reviews
Marie Claire is a seven year-old Jewish girl, living in a small village in France, near the Belgian border. The time is World War II. She is an orphan -- she was forced to watch as the Nazis stood her parents in the village fountain and shot them, their blood flowing over and over through the fountain for all to see. Marie Claire is being raised by her grandmother, who breeds beautiful hybrid roses and irises. Her village is bombed, destroying almost everything, and killing everyone except this amazing child. She returns to the ruins of her grandmother's home and hides herself in the cellar, covering herself up to her neck with dirt, afraid of being discovered by the Nazis. After several days, she is found by two nuns from a convent just across the border in Belgium, who have come in search of survivors. They are amazed to find her alive -- and they are puzzled by many things about her, including the ever-present scent of roses. When they take her back with them to their convent, miracles begin to occur, centered around the young girl. At first the sisters think they are imagining things -- but as events transpire and unfold, they come to believe that 'the child saved is an angel of God', a prophecy told by the mother of one of the nuns.
The author's style is a gently flowing stream of images. She uses an incredible economy of words to convey so much in this wonderful first novel. I read this book twice in succession last week, and I could find not a single sentence in excess -- a remarkable achievement, extremely effective and deeply moving.
The story told here deals with some of the most horrific brutality that men have ever perpetrated on their fellow human beings -- but there is a beauty here as well, a gentle affirmation of faith and hope. This is an absolutely beautiful work of art -- tender and at the same time astonishingly powerful.
In the Company of Angels is above all an understated story that explores a number of themes related to war, especially WW II including: the holocaust, the tension between duty and love, the use of convent as both an escape and a call, the relationship between devotion and insanity, denial as a response to the atrocities of war, the moral judgment of killing individuals in a war ... However, the book presents these horrors to us in a surprisingly gentle way; it sneaks up on us, catches us off-guard by changing the ground under us, reverses our preconceptions as to what is real.
The material for this wonder - a Jewish child whose family owned greenhouses, a novice nun whose father was a chocolater and whose mother was obsessed by religion, a young artist (and captain)who courted the future novice while providing data to the German army, the Mother Superior who has seen her convent and nuns evaporate under the hardships of war and moral choices in war.
This gentle, stark novel is an excellent meditation on war well worth its place on your must-read stack.