Marika Gillis's Reviews > The Third Angel

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman
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Apr 13, 2008

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Read in April, 2008

"People say there's the Angel of Life and the Angel of Death, but there's another one, too. The one who walks among us."

He could tell she was listening.

"He's nothing fierce or terrible or filled with light. He's like us, sometimes we can't even tell him apart. Sometimes we're the ones who try to save him. He's there to show us who we are. Human beings aren't gods. We make mistakes."


In this novel, Alice Hoffman tells the stories of three women entangled in unrequited love relationships. Each woman's story plays out very differently, however their lives are interconnected in surprising ways. Divided into three sections, Hoffman's novel begins with The Heron's Wife, the mildly disappointing (and rather slow moving) story of Maddy and Allie who are sisters in love with the same man. In Lion Park, Frieda finds herself falling in love with an unattainable rock star who is staying in the hotel where she works. The frantic, stream-of-consciousness feel to this part of the book began to draw me in more strongly than the first story, and I began to build interest and momentum for the rest of the book. In The Rules of Love, Bryn (while preparing for her upcoming wedding) turns to an unlikely 12-year-old girl for help reuniting with her former husband. The Rules of Love was compelling as Hoffman plays out the splendid story of Lucy and her father's desperate attempt to heal both her body and psyche after a traumatic life-changing experience. These tragic stories are each connected by this young child, Lucy, who will spend her life searching for 'the third angel'.

Long ago, I was a big fan of Alice Hoffman. While still living in Virginia, I read (and enjoyed) Practical Magic and Local Girls, and I was a big fan of Here On Earth when it was an Oprah Book Club selection. But, it has been years since I have read anything by this author, and I have a hard time remembering anything specific about any of the novels I have read. The Third Angel, like the others, might turn out to be just as forgettable. But, for the meantime, I remember it and I enjoyed it. The stories were increasingly impressive as I worked my way through the book and, after a disappointing beginning, I finally closed the book feeling satisfied.
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