Monday, February 15, 2010

Book 46: The Third Angel

The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman

I saw this novel on the "buy two, get one free" table at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, and while it didn't sound like a great novel, I thought it might be entertaining. Between the Dresden Files and a few other books, I feel like I have been reading a lot of testosterone-driven books, and thought it would be nice to read something with a bit more estrogen. The description on the version I picked it up made it sound like slightly literary chick lit: ". . . story that charts the lives of three women in love with the wrong men: Headstrong Madline Heller finds herself hopelessly attracted to her sister's fiance" and then it lists two other women and their issues. Unfortunately, it was not at all what I expected. It wasn't about three or four women that are all friends and bonds through bad dating decisions (I like fluff on occasion). Instead it tried to be something deeper and was just boring.

The story was actually cross-generational, and each woman who is making these bad decisions is removed by quite a few years. Instead they are all connected by the location - a hotel in London. Madeline was the least likable of the three characters, and seemed incredibly whiny. Now, granted, as a woman that is attracted to her sister's fiance, that might be a no brainer, but I actually quite enjoyed Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, and think it is one of the best pieces of chick lit I've read (unfortunately, none of her follow ups have been able to live up to its promise). There was also a lot of reflecting about their childhood and growing up with their sick mother. It was really just boring.

The second section was a bit more interesting and concerned Frieda Lewis working as a maid in London during the late '60s or early '70s. Also many of the characters that appear in this section end up being familiar from the earlier section so the reader already knows where their lives end up. The final section was told from Lucy's perspective, a young girl that goes to London with her father and new stepmother for her stepmother's sister's wedding to a man she doesn't love.

Instead of being a nice and fun read, I ended up with a novel that was trying to say something deep about love but was really just boring. There were a few sections that I liked but the beginning was so bad that they really weren't enough and were too late to redeem the novel. If I hadn't been on a plane, I don't know if I even would have finished this. Also, while I know the title was The Third Angel, I guess I wasn't expecting Hoffman to discuss it or bring it up the way she does. Her references to "the third angel" also became rather annoying rather quickly.

I've never read anything else by Hoffman though I've heard Practical Magic is interesting. I'd definitely stay away from this one, though. Of course, it might have just been that my expectations were completely different from what actually happened.


denesteak said...

I do like Alice Hoffman because I enjoyed the movie Practical Magic alot (shut up I like good movies too), so I like the book by association even though it's very different. One of my friends got me The Improbable Future, also by her, which was interesting, but the future was incredibly probable and I predicted everything that happened in the book.

To sum it up, Alice Hoffman is pretty fluffy to me (I can't read REAL fluff), though I do agree with you that she tries to sell it as Serious Shit.

she also seems to like doing that cross-generational women relations thing a lot.

Jen K said...

Usually I'm a sucker for cross-generational novels, and I also love it when various characters appear throughout and end up knowing other main characters (probably one of the reasons I like Love Actually so much).

I think a lot of it probably had to do with the fact that I was just expecting something completely different.