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Angelica

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3.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,080 ratings  ·  201 reviews
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 marriage, childhood, memory, and fear.

The novel opens in London, in the 1880s, with the Barton household on the brink of collapse.
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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3.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,080 ratings  ·  201 reviews


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Rebecca McNutt
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised with Angelica and all the imagination behind the story. This supernatural tale set in Victorian times not only has a great deal of those glamorous historical aesthetics that the period is known for, but also has numerous chilling paranormal scenes.
Charles Matthews
Dec 07, 2009 rated it liked it
“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
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Kurt
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cheryl
May 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: do-not-read
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
Moloch
Arthur Phillips si è guadagnato la mia stima grazie a L'archeologo, uno dei romanzi più belli, complessi e dal finale più sorprendente che abbia mai letto. Anche in questo Angelica, di cui appresi ancora una volta grazie a una recensione sul Corriere, l'autore si diverte a non farci capire mai dove stia la verità in quello che narra, e dove invece la menzogna o l'auto-illusione.
La vicenda prende spunto da un evento a prima vista banale: siamo a Londra, in epoca vittoriana, a casa di Joseph e Con
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Hannah
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads, gothics
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
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Nate D
Nov 10, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
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Sarahc Caflisch
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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melydia
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Katherine
Apr 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Emma Valieu
[ptêtre bien 2.5/5]

J'ai tellement cru que je n'en verrai pas le bout que mon avis sera bref.

Ce roman est d'une écriture pompeuse qui ne manque pas cependant d'un certain charme (soporifique diront certains, c'est vrai que je m'endormais facilement avec ce livre de chevet) mais très décevant si, comme moi, vous attendez du palpitant et un registre fantastique. Le quatrième de couverture est une belle arnaque, je m'incline ! Disons que je m'attendais à tout autre chose et que je suis déçue.

Ce n'es
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Dani Peloquin
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nina
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie Tam Turner
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

The book is broken down into four sections - each section tells the same story, but from the differing points of view of the four major players in the plot. The first section - from Constance's (the mother) point of view - is the strongest and has the most supernatural, ghostly feel. From there, the story becomes less about the supernatural and more about the facts, as the other characters - whether from profession (Joseph-the father; Anne-the "medium") or from youth (Angelica-the daugh
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Sarah James
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
What is truth? What is reality? These are the questions surrounding a story told in 4 parts. This book reminded me of the Hilary and Jackie movie told in two parts, two perspectives, wildly different. The reality is you never know what the "real story" is by the end. And that's the point.


My 2nd Arthur Phillips. I picked up Prague on a whim MANY years ago and remember loving it. I enjoy reading books by the same author so was looking forward to another mind-bending, if a bit dizzying, writing sty
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Guillemette Allard-Bares
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Susan Liston
Oct 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2016
I've had this book for ages and I've started it countless times and then bogged down, and stuck it back on the stack. Finally I decided...I WILL READ IT. And I've been trying, really I have. I only make myself read a chapter at a time, and then I can put it down. After a point, what IS the point to doing that? If I'm not enjoying a book I should jettison it. And so I finally skimmed through to the end, which I didn't really get. Reading other reviews I see that isn't unusual, the ending is ambig ...more
Amy
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
Ruthiella
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ruthiella by: Rachel
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 four times:
first from the view of the hysterical, haunted mother, second from the charlatan spiritualist and third, from the cold, domineering father. Each version manipulates the reader's perspective, fears and sympathies in a different manner and upends previous assumptions.

The final entry is sure to frustrate some readers and please
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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

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Matt Schiariti
Nov 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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Robyn
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Legsoffury
Dec 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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
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Chandra
Feb 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Alicia
Dec 23, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Julie
Jan 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
May 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
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.
Louise
Aug 31, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Debbie
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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