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Angelica

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3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  823 ratings  ·  185 reviews
BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from Arthur Phillips's The Tragedy of Arthur, The Song Is You, Prague, and The Egyptologist.

From the bestselling author of The Egyptologist and Prague comes an even more accomplished and entirely surprising new novel. Angelica is a spellbinding Victorian ghost story, an intriguing literary and psychological puzzle, and a meditation on...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn RandAngelica by Arthur PhillipsShelter by Harlan Coben
Bad Plot, Good Writing
2nd out of 3 books — 1 voter
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainAll Together Dead by Charlaine HarrisAnimal Farm by George OrwellAlice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Good Books that Begin with A
338th out of 400 books — 32 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,715)
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Charles Matthews
“Rashomon” meets “The Turn of the Screw.” Wilkie Collins rewritten by Vladimir Nabokov. There are several high-concept ways to describe Arthur Phillips’ intriguing, sometimes head-spinning “Angelica.” It’s a wickedly ingenious deconstruction of a Victorian ghost story, but it’s also a whodunit, as well as a what-, when-, where-, how- and especially whydunit.

The premise is this: Constance Barton, after two miscarriages, gave birth to a daughter whom she and her husband, Joseph, named Angelica. T...more
Kurt
I have just lost an entire Saturday devouring the last half of this extraordinary novel, having my mind exploded and my heart broken and reconstructed and broken again. I am an Arthur Phillips fan (The Egyptologist: A Novel, Prague), and I had high hopes for his third novel, described as a Victorian ghost story that becomes.. something else. I happily flipped through the first section of the book, a somewhat straightforward Victorian ghost story, cheekily mocking the "everything in Victorian nov...more
Hannah
I debated between whether to give this 2 stars or 4, so I settled on 3. This is one of the few books I've read and reviewed where I can honestly admit the jury's still out on whether I disliked it or liked it. Strange, no?

Phillips is a beautiful writer. I mean really, really good with creating textured sentences, mind-boggling prose. If I only had one-fifth of this guy's writing ability I'd be happy. So as far as just enjoying a wonderfully written piece of writing, this.is.it.folks.

It's complex...more
Katherine
I read Prague a few years back, (also by Phillips) and like this one it was well written, but lacking something. It's the story of a family who is haunted by alternately a "ghost" or a psychosis-take your pick- from the perspectives of the main characters involved and presented in three separate sections: a lesson in the subjective nature of experience. But, the machinations of the author were too transparent. I found the first narrator, the mother, very unsympathetic which prevented me from tr...more
Sarahc Caflisch
In late October, when one is sitting in a one's small warm room staring out into gray wet or bright bright day, one's thoughts cannot help but turn to the supernatural, spiritualists, madness, prisons, children, the sciences, the occult, new brides, old widows, Queen Victoria, Freud, Darwin, pixies, reading rooms, public houses, vivisection,mass murderers, confused constables, dead fathers, weeping mothers, prettier sisters, and reasonable brothers.

If you are searching for other and possibly mo...more
Nate D
Oh Arthur Phillips, you are so frequently interesting, so infrequently engaging. Your characters are almost never likeable and your plotlines, even when steeped in the Victorian gothic as here, seem never to develop momentum or tension. I want to work with you on this, I really do, as both Prague and especially The Egyptologist show promise, and had potentially gripping motifs, but it is just not working this time. Sorry.

...

Alright, I persevered. I think a big part of the problem is that the bac...more
Alicia
I remember not really liking Phillips' The Egyptologist, but this has been getting good reviews and the descriptions seemed intriguing--a Victorian ghost story, a terrible family tragedy, etc. Each of the four protagonists has a turn narrating the novel, which isn't a ghost story, and the tragedy is debatable. Then ending is really stupid and totally unsatisfying. Maybe this would be a better book if it wasn't billed as all spooky and cool, since it is neither of those things, but is primarily a...more
Geenyas
Comparisons to Henry James' "Turn of the Screw" are inevitable, and yet that old chestnut was at its heart a ghost story. "Angelica" is something different, despite the fact that it seems to be categorized as a ghostly tale. In the end, I'm still undecided whether it is a deceptively brilliant book, or just irritatingly vague and obfuscational in order to suggest something deeper. It kept me reading to the end, but undoubtedly many readers will find it frustratingly repetitive (with the same nar...more
Dani Peloquin
I finished this book about a month ago but I can't stop thinking about it. It has taken me this long to put my thoughts together to finally write this review. In many ways, Angelica reminded me of The Turn of the Screw in which a household seems to be plagued by a supposed ghost. Similar to the Turn of the Screw, Angelica is set in the 1800s and revolves around a deteriorating family. Constance and her husband, Joseph, are in a failing marriage which causes Constance to retreat into herself and...more
Cheryl
This book was terrible. It struggled through every page and sometimes had a hard time staying awake. Angelica is a advertised to be a ghost story, family tragedy, and mystery rolled up into one. The same set of events told from four different characters. Sounds promising right? It was terrible. There is no actual ghost story, and what family tragedy? Even after finishing I cannot figure out what actually happened. Maybe I am simply not intelligent enough to have understood the story, but I did h...more
Guillemette Allard-Bares
Une mère, soumise malgré sa santé fragile aux envies charnelles de son époux, se met à soupçonner la présence d'apparitions qui menacent sa petite fille et fait appel à l'assistance d'une exorciste… Entre roman victorien, occulte et psychologie, cet ouvrage est un peu inclassable. Narré sous quatre points de vue qui se suivent, c'est un véritable dédale où la vérité prend un malin plaisir à prétendre se laisser entrevoir pour mieux s'échapper ensuite. Jeune femme maltraitée ou hystérique sujette...more
Amy (amyb2332)
I can't keep reading this book. I'm about 100 pages in out of 350 or so and I just don't like it. It is a ghost story that is supposed to be told from 4 different points of view. I'm most of the way through the mother's point of view (this is the first and longest POV) and I am just bored to death and more importantly, I don't care at all. I picked this book up because it was recommended by Stephen King in an EW article but I don't think I can finish. I tried to pause this book for a while and r...more
melydia
Constance Barton has had enough miscarriages that the doctors now forbid her to have intercourse with her husband, for one more pregnancy will likely kill her. She begins to fear his every touch, but when a strange spirit seems to be attacking their daughter, she starts to see connections between it and her husband's behavior. She hires a spiritualist, but it may already be too late. The story is told from four points of view, one after the other, each adding a new layer to the confusion. Is the...more
Bookmarks Magazine

In Angelica, the talented Arthur Phillips (Prague, ***1/2 Nov/Dec 2002) pays homage to Henry James's famous ghost story, "The Turn of the Screw," but piles on multiple viewpoints to add maddening and obscure layers to the story. Reviewers loved the way Phillips tackles Freudian issues and shows how men and women process the same narrative differently. His pacing may strike some as slow__it is a Victorian novel, after all__but it yields a chilling, surprising tale of great psychological depth. "R

...more
Matt Schiariti
I wanted to like this book, I really wanted to like this book. I read it in only a couple days, not because I was utterly enthralled by the story but because I couldn't wait to be done with it.

It's a ghost story. Or is it? I can't possibly say after having read the whole thing.

One good thing about the book is that it's told in four parts, each focusing on the same story through the perspective of each of the four main characters. That in itself could have been pretty interesting if it weren't fo...more
Robyn
As Randy Jackson would say, "This one was just okay for me, Dawg." The book jacket's promise of a Victorian ghost story had me intrigued, but as I continued through the story, I kept waiting for something more to happen and it never really did. Part one is written from the point of view of Constance, the mother. This section was interesting. Where it lost me as an interested reader was in parts two and three where the story is told again and then yet again from the point of views of two more maj...more
Ruthiella
May 31, 2011 Ruthiella rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ruthiella by: Rachel
Shelves: 2011
“Angelica” begins as a Victorian ghost story and ends as a psychological novel. In a manner similar to “The Instance of the Fingerpost”, the story is told and retold first from the view of the hysterical, haunted mother, then the charlatan spiritualist and finally the cold, domineering father, manipulating the readers’ perspective, fears and sympathies each time. The final entry is sure to frustrate some readers and please others. Like in “The Egyptologist, Phillips plays with truth and percepti...more
Legsoffury
I listened to this as a book on cassette. My disclaimer to the readers of this review is that the annoying voice of the narrator on the cassette tapes may have effected my judgment of the book.

This was agony to get through. I appreciated the unique viewpoints but all of the characters were deplorable. I simply could not get "into" it without a single likable character. It's not just that they were not likable, I really tried to like them, and ended up detesting them all. I found myself yelling a...more
Chandra
Mar 29, 2008 Chandra rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Chandra by: Review on The Millions
I thought this book would be cool from the review I read on the blog The Millions, but I had a hard time getting into it. I had a hard time caring about the plight of the main character in the first part of the book and got tired of the constant "avoid-sex" games -- whether she didn't get knocked up and lived, or got knocked up and died was not relevant in my opinion. I was hoping she would get knocked up and die off and then we could move on to the psycho freak husband or kid. Anyway, I returne...more
S'hi
Although this is a very well structured and executed book, there were a couple of moments where I lost track of who the narrator was as it shifted through four phases of telling the same story. Whether this was a device of disorientation by the author to increase the effect of the subject matter of the book, or whether it is in fact a flaw in the writing I am still undecided. It is almost as if he is a little too clever.

Intelligently written with strong doses of scepticism and dark humour, this...more
Julie
Hated this book with a burning passion. Terribly written, terrible characters, stupidest plot....just one of the worst books I've ever read (though I couldn't finish it). I really liked Phillips' The Egyptologist, so this one was really disappointing. (This book was so bad, it actually really pissed me off!)
emily
totally underwhelming. the egyptologist was witty and surprising and had such a great sense of fun -- this was the opposite. it plodded. it was heavy-handed. the entire plot was immediately guessable and, frankly, I could hardly stand to go along to see that my guesses got borne out.
Debbie
Aug 03, 2011 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Debbie by: It's a Victorian ghost story!
It's called a Victorian ghost story , and part of the Turn of the Screw genre, but I think Phillips has outdone james. The story is told as a Rashemon, from everyone's perspective and your torn in pieces not knowing what to believe. Very absorbing.
Louise
I've come away from this, not really knowing which version of events was true, and what happened at the end, and who believed what... and all manner of other things.


will give me something to think about
Nina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
Written in densely metaphorical language, Angelica is about marriage, families, abuse, ghosts, and a thousand other things that somehow manage to not crowd the plot too much. This is because the plot revolves around attempting to reconstruct what happened to a family during a certain few days which change them all forever. Looking back from a great distance, the narrator is a family member attempting to make sense of what happened, despite not being in possession of all the facts.

Facts, actually...more
Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
My Inner Shelf
[Read this review in English]


Aaaahh ! Je suis encore toute pantelante quand je repense à ce roman achevé cette nuit seulement. Le résumé est excellent, il en dit juste assez mais ne dévoile rien, tout en restant honnête. Les amateurs du Tour d'écrou d'Henry James ne pourront que se pâmer, car Arthur Phillips, auteur inconnu à mon bataillon, signe là une pure merveille psychologique qui en a bien des aspects. Le livre se découpe en quatre chapitres, de longueur inégale, consacrés chacun à l'un de...more
Sean Randall
"That circumspection was literal: she looked around her as she spoke, as if her lady might somehow be here or crouching near a communicating fireplace elsewhere, as if all London’s hearths were interconnected to spy upon domestics."

That is worthy of Rowling. The writing here is potent, nuanced, layered and complex. The examination of the events portrayed is most detailed, and the introspection is deftly-done and solid.

"Memories are injected after the fact with subsequent wisdom. Their younger se...more
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