Friday, 15 April 2011

The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Title: The Guardian Angel's Journal
Author: Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Published: 14th April 2011
Publisher: Piatkus (Little, Brown Book Group)
ISBN: 9780749953232

Rating 5/5

The cover on this is slightly ornate with gold swirl detail and the title in gold metallic font.  This is a debut book from a British author.  

Margot Delacriox dies and finds herself reborn as her own guardian angel named Ruth, thereby forced to re-experience her life and the impact it had on others.  I found it took me as long as Ruth to adjust to the idea of being a guardian angel and having to shadow her former self.  The story covers a lot of gritty and in places hard to deal with topics, such as the effects of drugs and alcoholism on family life, along with violence and imprisonment, and it jumps right in from the outset into such a scenario.  I found this easier to read because it was seen through a guardian's eyes.  

As a reader I was drawn to Ruth and how she developed as a guardian whilst struggling to come to terms with the fact there are some things she couldn't change.  Ultimately the book evoked a lot of emotions whilst I was reading...from disgust at the conditions and level of abuse Margot received whilst she was young, to feeling complete relief when Margot's life touches those who really care and love her.  I found this was a book I could get myself into, no matter how gritty it was.

There's so many different characters in here.  Some really horrendously vile people who are self serving and care little about anyone, but because of the way the story is told, enveloping spiritual and guardian type characteristics, I did feel a level of compassion for some of them. 

My favourite parts are when Ruth interacts with the other guardians and archangels.  Just because she's a guardian doesn't mean she gets it easy though, so I liked the way the story wove in her own battles which she had to face in order to protect what she holds dear.  The earth shattering pieces for me are those where abuse is, and the guardians do everything within their power to help alleviate the impact of abuse....which made it a lot easier for me as a reader to digest.  Without the positive aspects in the book I think it would have been too gritty for me to read, so it was exceptionally balanced.

My favorite quote from The Guardian Angel's Journal:
"Every day I see behind the scenes, experiences I was meant to have, the people I was meant to have loved, and I want to take some celestial pen and change the whole thing.  I want to write a script for myself.  I want to write to this woman, the woman I was, and tell her everything I know.  And I want to say to her: Margot, tell me how you died."

An extremely well written and interwoven book which had me torn between being heartbroken for Margot and characters close to her, and warmed by the positivity given out by the guardians.  In many places this is bittersweet.  The Guardian Angel's Journal will stay with me for a long time to come. The book also has notes for book groups, and has a lot of material for discussion.

Book synopsis:
When Margot Delacroix dies at forty-two years old, she is sent back to earth as a guardian angel - to herself. Renamed Ruth, she is forced by divine mandate to re-experience and record her biggest mistakes and fiercest regrets from the beginning of her life to her untimely death. Forced from the moment of her birth to witness the cogs of fate and the stuttering engine of free will, Ruth sets out to change the course of her life, and, ultimately, to prevent her premature death. When she realises that the reasons behind her teenage son's descent into drugs and murder lay within her own actions as Margot, she makes a pact with a demon - she will give up her place in Heaven in exchange for the opportunity to save her son from his fate. But the changes she makes result in consequences no one could expect...
Source - Many thanks to Little, Brown.  A review copy was received in exchange for an honest review.


Becky said...

Even though this has angels, I feel no desire to read it. I think it is the revisiting element. Going back to see her former self. It just doesn't appeal. Lovely review though.

Jules (The Great, The Good and The Bad) said...

This does sound really interesting and probably a book that I wouldn't have usually considered.

I think this is one that I will definitely add to my wish list.

Thanks for the review