AngelicaTo delve into a book completely is, to me, the greatest part of reading.  There is great freedom in suspending your own internal voices and embracing a story without reservation.  Which isn’t easy when the voices in your head are used to being listened to (as mine are).  Oftentimes part of this suspension  is allowing yourself to be easily led where the author wants you to go.  Which can be exactly where you don’t want to go and sometimes it can be away from something you want to see.  They lock the doors and take the lights out on the stairs.  All we can do is turn away and go where the path is open.

I make a habit of not reading book sleeve synopses.  If I did, I might have been forewarned.  Angelica is divided into four parts.  I was only two sentences into part two when I realized I had been duped.  Part one is centered on Mrs. Barton (Constance) and a pernicious spector haunting her life.  I believed it all without reservation – it’s a great ghost story through and through.  Of course she’s haunted.  Of course she’s unable to remove it. Of course she hires someone to expel it from the house.  Of course her husband has something to do with it.

Except oops, part two is about Anne, the woman hired to rid the house of the spector.  Now things are getting interesting, and Constance’s four year old daughter (guess who is part four?) hasn’t even had her say yet.  While Anne is no charlatan, the first few glimpses of her are pragmatic, calculating and mercenary.  Here is a fine lady in need of her help.  And help she will give, though her paranormal powers may not be necessary.  This is how she makes her living after all.  All of which does not make her unkindly or malicious, quite the contrary.  Nor does it even make Constance wrong – there may be a ghost in the house.  Or maybe Constance made him up and Anne gave him life and a new face.

In part three, Constance’s husband Joseph is more sympathic (not surprising).  He is not the ogre represented in Constance’s story, though the narrator does seem to like him less.  In this overwhelmingly female story, he doesn’t get the best billing.  I suspected the narrator to be a woman and was excited to find that I was correct.  Though who she is remains to be seen.

What makes this book interesting, is that the story continually remains uncertain (a peek at the sleeve promises a fantastic ending.  I’m trying not to skim just to get to it).  There is truth in each character’s perspective.  I find myself staunchly on the side of whomever is leading the story at the moment, only to be led astray as the next one takes his or her turn.  And throughout there is the needling voice of the narrator, writing this story for the benefit of some second person character who surely ties it all together.  It’s driving me crazy.

No doubt the author wants it that way and I have a prickly feeling that I should resent his interference and his marionette-like machinations.  Instead I find myself enamored with the story and unwilling to cut the strings.   

Angelica, lead me where you will.

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