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In the Company of Angels

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  103 reviews
In the Company of Angels is the powerful story of two damaged souls trying to find their way from darkness toward light.

Imprisoned and tortured for months by Pinochet's henchmen for teaching political poetry to his students, Bernardo Greene is visited by two angels, who promise him that he will survive to experience beauty and love once again. Months later, at the Torture
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published July 1st 2009)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  277 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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"The pain was not his alone, it was theirs together, a place that had waited to be discovered by what she saw now as the indefatigable wish to love."

My chest tightened and tears welled up as I read this sentence and its accompanying passage. At my core, I understood. Terrible psychic pain caused by cruelty and injustice desecrate personal attachment to living. How could that possibly change?

Bernardo (Nardo) Greene has found sanctuary in Denmark, after surviving horrendous torture during his imp
Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
At last I have won a first reads contest and I haven't hated the book.

Don't let my three star rating be too much of a fault against the book (as if anyone cares what I rate a book). I'd give it 7 stars out of 10, but I just can't bring myself to give it four stars.

The first part of a quartet, that might be released already in other countries, I'm not quite sure. Apparently the author is well respected outside of America, and generally unpublished here in his homeland. I do not kno
Roger Brunyate
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Last Tango in Purgatory

At the exact half-way point in this perfectly-calculated but exquisite novel two people dance a tango outside a bar in a Copenhagen square:
Four steps across and a close, his thigh between hers as their eyes met and her lips parted to draw breath. He trapped her arm, but loosely, behind her as they did another volta, looking away from each other in one direction, in the other, and the woman in black clapped her hands once, crying out "Bravo, compadre!" […] "One more," she s
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then, a book comes along that you want to tell the next person you meet, "You must read this." ANGELS is simply masterful -- an exquisitely-written book that focuses on the theme of torture (physical and emotional) and redemption. I promise -- you will not soon forget it.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gave-away
I read this book so long ago, yet it continues to haunt me in untold ways. As it resolutely remains beside my "to-review" bench, I painfully hesitate to address my tenuous commitment to satisfactorily articulate how profoundly one book is capable of genuinely provocative reflection long after the last page is read. Yet, In the Company of Angels refuses to relieve me of lingering thoughts, so it is best to be rid of its rabid hold upon my dreams, much like Nardo, who has endured the tortuous an ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I discovered Thomas E Kennedy a few years ago when I read 'Falling Sideways' and was very impressed. It's taken me a while to get back to him and, although there is much to admire in this novel, I found it a tad disappointing.
Kennedy is an American living in, and writing about, Copenhagen. It's not a city I've been to but it provides a compelling background to these novels. Nardo is a Chilean teacher who was imprisoned and tortured by the Pinochet regime for teaching the works of banned poets to
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Written 'in a slow, ponderous prose, almost like the music of some strange film, grinding deeply, escalating and then dropping, but resonating for a long time', is Kennedy’s tale of torture and abuse, but also of hope and healing. Two characters are at the centre of this story: Nardo, a teacher who has survived torture at the hands of Chilean oppressors and is now trying to get back to normal, and Michela, a victim of domestic abuse. The story is compelling and rings true, and is written in a la ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a resounding, deeply moving story of pain, sorrow, love, and redemption. Despite the characters' dark and soul-shattering journeys, light reflects on every page, both literally and aesthetically. Kennedy writes with an exquisite and tender timbre, lyrical and poetical, from core to root to stem to stalk to bloom. His prose is fueled with gravitas and grace, as he probes into the seeds of the subconscious with a Jungian finesse.

Nardo Greene is a Chilean teacher who is in Copenhagen receiv
Diane Tweed
Dec 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received this as an AR from Goodreads.

I first have to say that this is not book I would normally read. However, the synopsis sounded interesting and I am looking to expand my reading interests.

Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations. I couldn't connect with any of the characters. There is not a lot of dialogue, but rather a lot of internal thought processes. I found these thought processes strange, disjointed and somewhat unbelievable. I also had a hard time connecting with
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
In the Company of Angels, by Thomas E. Kennedy is a beautifully written novel set in Copenhagen, Denmark. Straightaway, that makes it a unique experience for me.

There are four different narratives, first and foremost, Nardo (Benardo Greene), a Chilean who has suffered physically and mentally at the hands of the Pinochet regime for about two years. He is now taking refuge in Copenhagen and being treated by a psychiatrist at the Torture Rehabilitation Center. We are given a window into the life o
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've read many books that are page-turners, but In the Company of Angels drew me in beyond that. I, more than wanting to finish the book, wanted to savor every page and read small bits at a time to prolong the experience. Kennedy crafted a heart-wrenchingly beautiful and expertly-told story.

The characters' perspectives were woven together in a way that flowed with ease. Each character brought depth and insight to the story and added new meaning.

Kennedy wrote about difficult topics of abuse, hu
Friederike Knabe
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Danish psychiatrist Thorkild Kristensen feels his case slipping away. His patient, Chilean exile Bernardo (Nardo) Greene, is avoiding eye contact and resisting all attempts to be coaxed back to the memories of the horrific events that are at the root of his harrowing physical and emotional pain. Yet, without confronting again those demons of the past, any healing of the body and the soul are unlikely to be possible. In this accomplished and deeply moving novel, Thomas E. Kennedy examines with pr ...more
Susan Tekulve
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of In the Company of Angels, a Chilean torture survivor named Bernardo Greene sits in a street-side café in Copenhagen on a chill June day and muses, “How much of a survivor, in fact, survives? How much must remain of a survivor for him also to be called a man?” These questions become the central preoccupation of this wise and astonishingly beautiful novel that weaves together the lives of characters who have survived unspeakably evil events: After his release from the South Ame ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
In this novel a Chilean victim of torture is living in Copenhagen and forced by his therapist/trauma counselor to return to his memories of torture and to re-live them in the therapeutic setting, presumably so that the victim can then get over the trauma and "move on." Although the novel was quite beautiful in some ways, and quite thought-provoking (it could have been called "A History of Violence as Seen Through the Intersecting Experiences of a Torture Victim, a Domestic Violence Victim, a Per ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to win this book from the blog written by Mary Whipple. I am very happy she lead me to a new author to eagerly await material from.

The story tells about a teacher who is brutally tortured in Chile, a divorced woman who has lost a child, her father with many life regrets, the therapist who is helping Nardo heal, and a young, immature, and self-centered boyfriend who is forced to self reflect.

I really enjoyed this story. Kennedy does an amazing job of capturing the human spirit th
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Thomas Kennedy is a talented writer, but I didn't like his novel In the Company of Angels. It's an ugly book, with some lovely passages, and an incongruously happy ending. It is, I suppose, about love, and (mild spoiler) that's where the happy ending comes in. That ending is hard to swallow, since the whole rest of the book is essentially about how awful people in love (or perhaps, "in love") are to one another. If interpersonal depravity isn't enough for you, there's also a heaping helping of s ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes after I've read a particularly inspiring book, I find myself unwilling or unable to pick up another book. Savoring is something I don't often indulge in, but after reading this book in all of its terrible beauty, I am not ready to take on the challenge of any literature.
I was a bit hesitant to read this because of the promise of human suffering and while there is that, there is redemption and hope so eloquently articulated.
The protaginist is a man living in Copenhagen, after surviving
Jul 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
One of the few books I have been unable to finish. The premise is fascinating: a man who suffered extreme torture in South America finds himself in Denmark getting therapy for his emotional issues. He meets and gets acquainted with a Danish woman who has suffered domestic abuse more than once. These two would make a great book.

But the woman's abuse and scary boyfriend isn't bad enough to be a true villain, and has no real emotional pull. The psychiatrist himself is equally distant, without anyth
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't know what it is lately but the books I have read lately are wonderful. In the Company of Angels tells the story of a teacher/poet tortured under the Pinochet takeover in Chile. He immigrates to Denmark and works with a psychiatrist to heal. The story also tells of the broken life of a Danish woman who is struggling to find meaning in her life. Love, forgiveness, openness to the pain of the lives of others, tolerance, understanding are all themes is the very very special book. In the end, ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
I didn't like the style of writing. Mixing narratives can be interesting (think My Name is Red) but it doesn't work here. I also found the writing to be dry. Kennedy goes into detail to describe pretty normal, mundane things (a normal street, park or whatever in Copenhagen). I couldn't relate to any of these characters (the abuser or the abused). I also didn't feel the love. On the other hand, the sorrow and pain I could feel. All in all, Kennedy holds back too much for me.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
I have a hard time justifying this as a love story. True, there is a love story or two encapsulated into the plot, but the darker, violent themes carry a stronger resonance in this novel. The multiple perspectives prove to be another problematic issue. While it is possible to use this approach well in writing, this novel becomes more and more disjointed a further perspectives are added. I would prefer to read a select few instead of throwing in everyone and their father.
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The first in the wonderful Copenhagen Quartet as reissued by Bloomsbury. Disclaimer: Tom is a friend; footnote to disclaimer: my admiration of the books led to the friendship. This is a brilliant and moving exploration of our capacity to maintain our humanity in the face of inhumanity: torture rehabilitation, domestic abuse, tender romance.
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wasn't sure how to rate this book. There were parts that I found myself really getting into and others were I was skipping over paragrahs that went too deeply into aspects that didn't really add to the story.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I went pretty quickly through this book at first, but mostly just to find out what was going to happen. In the end, nothing really happened. I found the story rather anti-climatic and not very entertaining at all. Disappointing read.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An exquisite reading experience - perhaps especially for a Copenhagen native. Thomas Kennedy demonstrates a keen sense of Danish culture and lack thereof. Beautiful story and convincing characters. Highly recommended.
Mar 09, 2011 added it
A gruesome paced book. Would I recommend it? Nope. Something got lost in translation or the author has some serious issues to work out with sex and violence.
Chloe Morley
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an eye opening and diverse read about an individual (Bernardo) who was victim to the political turmoil of his country, who meets another main character called Michela. Michela has had her own share of turmoil from abusive romantic relationships to the loss of her child. Set in Denmark you get to see some of Dainish culture. This book is a story of the road to recovery after traumatic events with many quote worthy lines.

I enjoyed reading this book and was interested in the fact it’s set
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book still lingers after all those years. Ill think about it and wonder what the name of the book was. Beautiful.

Like this review most:
Cathy rated it really liked it
I've read many books that are page-turners, but In the Company of Angels drew me in beyond that. I, more than wanting to finish the book, wanted to savor every page and read small bits at a time to prolong the experience. Kennedy crafted a heart-wrenchingly beautiful and expertly-told story.

The characters' perspectives were w
Jen Epstein
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
I read this book for college, but every page was one that told an amazing story. I told the author this when I met him since he was a teacher at the college I attended.
The stories of each of the characters and how they intertwine are what makes this book the book it is.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Two stories -- based in Copenhagen -- much philosophy and trying to understand personalities.
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Thomas E. Kennedy is an author of novels, short stories, and essays. He has been a journalist for World Medical Journal and the Danish Medical Association and a translator and editor for Copenhagen's Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims and now teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He lives in Copenhagen with his wife, a physician.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goo
“Because I do not know the names of things, I do not express them. ” 1 likes
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