Friday 8 April 2011

The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Published on the 14th April by Piatkus
Pages - 356
Book: Kindly given to me by the publisher for an honest review.

When I died I became a guardian angel.
Nandita broke the news to me in the afterlife without any ice-breaking small talk or comfort-inducing  chit-chat. You know the way dentists ask what your Christmas plans are right before they yank out a tooth? Well I can tell you there was none of that. There was simply this:
Margotis dead, child. Margot is dead.
No way, I said, I'm not dead.

I am a complete sucker for an angel story and this one sent me straight to heaven.  The idea behind this story is so original it blew my mind. I felt like I had stepped into a quantam physics experiment, where I could bend time backwards and forwards like an eraser.

Margot dies at the age of forty and is sent back to Earth to be her OWN GUARDIAN ANGEL! I kid you not. Doesn't that just defy mentality? Margot is renamed Beth and forced to accompany herself as she relives every minor detail of her past. Beth is allowed to encourage Margot into making the right decisions, but Margot is a force to be reckoned with and isn't about to listen carefully to her former self. 

I refuse to give away any spoilers for this book. You just have to read it. I am actually rather desperate for someone else to read this book, so that I can talk about it openly without giving away any of the storyline.

This book felt like a 'before' and 'after' scenerio. Just imagine being able to try and alter all of those incidents that you now know had disasterous effects on your life. Beth knows exactly how Margot's life will turn out and does her utmost to try and change her actions, often without any change occurring. Margot's younger years are probably some of the worst you can imagine.  So it is not surprising at all, the way Margot's life unfolds. The events of her son's life  were definitely a direct consequence of Margot's emotional rollercoaster of a life. You could just envisage this vicious barbed wire circle of circumstances continually playing over and over again.

I found the writing to be utterly beautiful and often very poignant.  Carolyn Jess-Cooke is extremely good at pulling your heart strings and twisted them into knots. This book is a real gut wrencher and a couple of times I felt my eyes welling up at some rather emotional and violent scenes. I felt every last tear and pain that the young Margot experienced right alongside her guardian angel Beth.

As Margot moves into adulthood, I wanted to dislike her, but everytime I reminded myself of the childhood she had led, I stepped away from those feelings.

Carolyn Jess-Cooke has been compared with Audrey Niffenegger and I can understand why. Her book is a fresh approach to angels with an original idea developed thoroughly, leaving  you desperate to read more of her work. 

The only thing I don't like about this book is that I didn't write it first! Only joking. I just can't wait to see what Carolyn writes next.

If you love angels like I do and believe that everything is not as it seems, then trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to read this book.


  1. Fantastic review I have this one for the library from Michelle at Clover Hill Book Reviews. I am tempted to hide it under my desk until I can read it first ;D

  2. I had been considering reading this one and you certainly make the case for it. I hadn't thought that this was that storyline from what i had read of the book. Definitely sounds fascinating.

  3. Ok I was already sold by your review but the Audrey Niffenegger comment seals it. I HAVE to get this book!

  4. What an interesting premise. Your enthusiasm has me wanting to read the book.

  5. sounds fantastic viv. now I want to read it.

  6. Your enthusiasm is wonderful, Vivienne! It sounds like an amazing book that I must read (thank you for not spoiling it!).

  7. Asamum- sent you a Twitter message.

    Nicole - it is an amazing storyline. Not everyone's choice but I absolutely loved it.

    Vicki - when I saw that on the cover, it made me read it faster.

    Bermudaonion - you know me. Always over enthusiastic.

    Naida - go for it.

    Suko - i hate spoilers!

  8. Oh blimey Viv, it sounds amazing. Putting it straight on my list

  9. Woa, your own guardian angel...ok my interest peeked there ;)

  10. What a fascinating premise. What I would give to be able to go back in time and tell my younger self not to do, or do differently! I bet I wouldn't listen to my older self either though :-) Another one for the TBR list!

  11. Carmen - Just waiting to see who wants to borrow mine otherwise will lend it to you.

    Blodeuedd - good huh!

    Mummazappa - oh I would love to do that too.

  12. This sounds fantastic - another one for the wishlist. I love the cover as well!

  13. I am halfway through this book, picked it up on a whim and now I cant put it down!

  14. I bought the book yesterday and read it in one go. I really loved it and it made me cry in some ways while making me smile at the same time. it was really enjoyable and I'm recommending it very much!

  15. This finally came off my TBR pile last night Viv. Oh blimey - NOT the book to read when pregnant and hormonal. Had to come back and tell you I agree totally with your review - I remembered how much you loved it :) Waterworks were a plenty by the end even though I kinda guessed what might happen.

  16. p.s I STILL have those books you leant me here. Worst borrower ever - can you email me your address again so I can send them home?


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