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Literature and Fiction Review – The Third Angel

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

Review Vicky T. (VickyJo)


There are many different types of love in the world. There is romantic love, familial love, platonic love…but sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to love yourself. Alice Hoffman explores all facets of love in her beautiful novel “The Third Angel.” She tells the story of three women, who have encounters with love that will forever change their lives.

We start in 1999. High powered attorney Maddy Heller has come to London to act as a bridesmaid in her sister Allie’s wedding. Allie, a famous children’s author, is having second thoughts about this marriage. What she doesn’t know is that Maddy has had an affair with Allie’s fiancé, Paul. This tangled triangle becomes further complicated when Paul is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The book skips back in time to 1966. London is alive and swinging, and Frieda Lewis has left the country life to come to the city and be in the middle of the energy and excitement. She works in a hotel called Lion’s Park, where rock musicians occasionally stay. She meets an up and coming singer/songwriter, and falls deeply in love, knowing that his addiction to drugs, and his girlfriend, could ruin what might be a beautiful relationship.

The last third of the book takes place in 1952. Twelve-year-old Lucy Green is traveling by ship to London with her father and stepmother to attend her stepmother’s younger sister’s wedding. They stay in the lovely hotel Lion Park, where Lucy, who is currently obsessed with Anne Frank, meets a handsome stranger who befriends the lonely girl, and asks a great favor of her. By getting involved in a love triangle between three adults, Lucy’s life will be forever altered.

Hoffman weaves these three stories together on numerous levels; Lucy Green will grow up to be the mother of Maddy and Allie Heller, while Frieda will become Paul’s mother, Allie’s fiancé. The stories take place in the same hotel, Lion’s Park. And the women in these tales are all experiencing love, in all its incarnations. Hoffman shows us how love can be beautiful, bittersweet, and sharp enough to wound the heart. It can strike one suddenly, with no rhyme or reason. It can enrich one person’s life while at the same time destroying someone else’s.

This is one of those rare books that I wanted to read again the minute I finished it. I had an urge to read it back to front, and I may just do that. Hoffman is another one of those writers that uses language to effortlessly create moods and emotions in her readers. Her sentences are made to be savored, and I am in awe of her writing talents. She makes it look so easy.

The title comes from Frieda’s father, an old country doctor who always told her that there was the Angel of Life, the Angel of Death, and the Third Angel. When he went on his rounds, or was called out late at night, it was either the Angel of Life or the Angel of Death that rode in his car with him. But it’s the Third Angel that is the most curious. “You can’t even tell if he’s an angel or not. You think you ‘re doing him a kindness, you think you’re the one taking care of him, while all the while, he’s the one saving your life.”

This beautiful novel is a story of love, of forgiveness, of deep sorrow, and incredible joy, and enduring regrets. Hoffman breaks your heart while she examines the human condition, and the lives of women who have loved, and lost, and yet hope to love again.







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One Response to “Literature and Fiction Review – The Third Angel”

  1. Betty V. (bettyv) says:

    This sounds like just my kinda book!

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