on September 1, 2008
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
An intense, heartbreaking voyage of true finesse and beauty, 11 Jan 2008
I didn't simply read this book, follow its passages glibly, only briefly envisioning the scenes described. I didn't, because that was simply not possible; I lived it, felt it, and was drawn inexorably within it. This work, by Ellory, is an experience that will stay with me for many years, and anybody who is conversant with Quiet Belief In Angels will have a clear idea as to why.
The premise of the book is not convoluted, or impregnable, it is actually simple, if rather harrowing. The story follows the life of Joseph Vaughan, haunted by the child killings in his hometown; Augusta Falls. These shadows follow him, haunt him and fortify his desperate desire for deliverance. In his yearning to escape he is fully possessed by them, until they dominate his very being.
I was moved by the style, the description, the deftness and mastery with which Ellory creates this world and draws one into it. The way you become emotionally attached to the characters, experiencing real emotion, exhilaration and despair. I can actually see the protagonist, Joseph Vaughan in my minds eye; I feel I know him, his reactions, attitudes and decisions, like I do a close friends. I can feel, breath, almost experience Augusta Falls, and thus created an emotional attachment to the stricken town. So much so, that when the passage of time creates irrevocable changes, I found myself yearning nostalgically for the more rustic humble town of the 1940's.
Throughout this journey, I felt the anguish in the inequity of Joseph Vaughan's fortune, yet beamed, at his times of happiness. I certainly agree with the reviewer, who mentioned reading his books chronologically will allow you to develop with the author, but this is not essential, everyone of his books are stand out experiences in themselves
It is very pleasing to see that an erudite author of such talent is finally getting deserved recognition. Many more can now avail themselves to his unique gift, and sail into a resonant journey that is quintessentially an RJ Ellory novel. Highly recommended.
One day in July 1939, when Joseph Vaughan was 12 years old, a white feather blew into his room. Joseph saw this as a sign of an angel's visit. On the same day, his father died.
This angel, the Angel of Death, becomes a frequent visitor to the rural community of Augusta Falls in Georgia. And, as World War II becomes a reality in Europe, a number of young girls, classmates of Joseph, are murdered. Evil takes many different forms. Joseph wants to try to protect his community, and together with his friends, forms a group called `The Guardians'. They are powerless to stop the killer, and the murders continue. At least ten girls have been murdered by the time Joseph reached adulthood. The nightmares that result continue to haunt him.
`Words are only so much use if they say something worth hearing.'
Joseph has dreams, as well as nightmares. He dreams of being a writer, and is encouraged by his mother and his teacher. His teacher, Miss Alexandra Webber, tells him to always tell the truth as he sees it, not how others wish it to be seen.
Joseph's search for truth in relation to the murders is challenged by a series of horrific events in his own life. He moves to the city hoping to find peace in anonymity but still the nightmares haunt him. Joseph needs to discover the truth about the murders in order to find peace.
I became totally absorbed in this novel: the characters were well developed; the plot was not as straightforward as I first thought, and the language was splendid. Sometimes the pace seemed too slow, but by the end it all made sense. I think that a faster pace would have reduced the impact of the story. This is a haunting story: each character has a place in Joseph Vaughan's life, and his life becomes very real as events unfold.
`At times I have believed that age is the enemy of truth.'
With his impressive training, deft vocal execution, on spot elocution we might almost call Mark Bramhall a scholarly actor. He studied acting at Harvard, the University of California, the American Conservatory Theater, and as a Fulbright scholar at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Yet, the term scholarly doesn't do him justice as his voice is not only superbly trained but quietly dramatic, compelling as it carries readers along in this extraordinary story, A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS.
We hear, "I look back across the span of my life, and I try to see it for what it was. Amidst the madness that I encountered, amidst the rush and smash and brutality of the collisions of humanity I have witnessed, there have been moments...."
Yes, there were many moments in Joseph Vaughan's life but overshadowing all is what occurred in 1939 when he was living in a small town in Georgia - a heinous crime, the murder of a young girl. However, that's not the end of it as other young girls are slain. Joseph forms a group called "The Guardians" to keep their small community safe. But they're unable to stop the killings, which do eventually appear to end. A man is discovered dead, hung and he's believed to have been the killer.
We flash forward to 1952 when Joseph is living in Brooklyn and has found not only success as a writer but also love. Yet strangely death once again follows Joseph and his pregnant soon to be bride is murdered. Joseph is believed to be the killer and is imprisoned only to be released some 13 years later. He returns to his small Georgia town determined to find the real killer of those young girls so many years ago. He finds that the tally of dead girls has risen and discovers who the murderer is.
What follows is an unbelievable scenario, powerful and unforgettable. R. J. Ellroy has crafted a crime story unlike any other, beautifully written, one might almost say poetic, rich with passion and power.
- Gail Cooke