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The Wild Angel [Mass Market Paperback]

Pat Murphy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sep 2001
This time, Pat Murphy tells the enthralling tale of young Sarah, the Wild Angel of the Sierras. Sarah's parents were murdered and she, only four years old, was left for dead in the wild mountains. But Sarah was rescued by a wolf who had lost her cubs, and accepted into the pack. There against all odds, she thrived. Part Mowgli of the Jungle Books, part Tarzan of the Apes, Sarah's story is a delightful adventure for all ages. When she is not writing science fiction, Pat Murphy writes for the Exploratorium, San Francisco's museum of science, art, and human perception. Pat Murphy's second novel, THE FALLING WOMAN, won the nebula for best novel in 1987.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812590422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812590425
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,311,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tarzan of the Apes becomes Sarah of the Wolves 12 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First let's get the authors sorted out. Max Merriwell is a ficticious SF author invented by Pat Murphy. She complicates things by having him write fantasy under the name of Mary Maxwell. This then is Pat Murphy pretending to be a man writing as a woman!. But it's by Murphy.
The book is the second of a series of three. At first sight there is little connection between this Tarzan in the calafornia gold rush and There and Back Again a retelling of the Hobbit in Space in the far future, although some of the characters reappear! All will posibly be made clearer in volume three - Adventures in time and space with Max Merriwell, but it's not available yet in paperback.
I am less familiar with Tarzan than I am with the Hobbit so I am less able to judge how closely the original plot is followed. However since there were I believe twenty one Tarzan books it cannot be on the almost chapter by chapter parallelism of There and Back again.
After her parents' murder Sarah is brought up by wolves. The tale tells of her gradual learning of her parents society with her realisation she belongs niether there nor totally with the wolves.
Along side this is the story of the murder's attempt to remove the last witness to his crimes.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wild Angel 8 Sep 2000
By "aharlib" - Published on Amazon.com
aharlib@worldnet.att.net The Wild Angel by Pat Murphy (Tor Books, NY, Aug. 2000, $23.95, hardcover, ISBN#: 0-312-86626-7). Pat Murphy's latest novel The Wild Angel, (also credited as by Mary Maxwell by Max Meriwell in a playful authorial pseudonymous experiment), is the second in a trio of tales paying homage to great classics of imaginative fiction. The first, 'There and Back Again', was a loving pastiche of Tolkien's The Hobbit re-worked as a space opera. This one is faithful to the spirit of Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan tales and Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book Mowgli stories with a hefty nod to Mark Twain who is quoted in every epigraph for each chapter. The resulting yarn, a delightful cross-genre mix with elements of mystery, western and fantasy/adventure infused with a feminist sensibility, is also a wolf-girl saga that nicely complements the entirely independent Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles (1996). In Gold Rush California (1850), hopeful settlers Rachel and William McKenzie have their dreams cut short when they are murdered by the ruthless robber Jasper Davis in their camp not far from the boomtown of Selby. Their 3 year old daughter Sarah, by hiding in a cave, avoids death, finding her survival depends upon the wolf pack led by the she-wolf Wauna that adopts her. Like her special wolf-companion Beka, one of Wauna's offspring, Sarah grows wild, strong, healthy and wary of humans for many years until a chance encounter and resulting friendship with Malila, a young Miwok Indian woman and shaman who shows her that not all people are to be feared.
Meanwhile, evidence of the crime is discovered by writer/artist Max Philips, but the perpetrator remains unknown. Max, loving to camp and sketch in this wilderness area, as the years pass, occassionally glimpses Sarah, who is becoming known as the Wild Angel for her beauty, spectacular red hair and kindness to distressed travelers. Gradually Max gains Sarah's trust and
friendship for he has been haunted by her ever since the day he discovered her parent's bodies but couldn't find their little girl. He also keeps this odd friend of his secret, fearing that the murderer of Sarah's parents is still nearby which indeed he is, for Jasper Davis has been buying respectability with the proceeds of his crimes, but never forgetting that Sarah witnessed his foul deed. In the outlandish tradition of the pulpy adventure novels on which this book draws inspiration, Sarah eventually joins a circus, meets her long-lost aunt from back east and confronts Jasper Davis in a predictable but undeniably exciting and suspenseful climax. Pat Murphy's crisp, concise prose style and authorial skill in assembling the elements of her mythical novel evokes such an appropriate atmosphere that suspension of disbelief comes effortlessly and the swift-paced narrative sucks the reader right in. The Wild Angel also features vivid depictions of Gold Rush California that ring true and contains graphic descriptions of the 'nature red in tooth and claw' struggle for survival that is life in a pack of wolves as well as of the loving companionship of which these noble animals are capable. A thoughtful subtext contrasting the wilderness and Native American lifestyles in balance with the forces of nature with the exploitation of and damage to the land caused by the Anglo-Americam settlers and miners adds depth to the story without preachiness--not spoiling the sheer fun of this yarn with its lovable protagonists and compelling, fanciful and ultimately heartwarming plot. In the Afterword, Murphy discusses how the layers of pseudonyms influenced her writing and how they will help to tie together 'There and Back Again', this book, and the next one. Meanwhile, allow Sarah, the Wild Angel---a woman who truly runs with the wolves in every sense of those words, to run away with your heart and have a ripsnorting romp of a read while doing so!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genre fiction executed with skill, intelligence and wit 25 April 2007
By Henry W. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pat Murphy continues the experiment begun with the delightful THERE AND BACK AGAIN, this time adopting her psuedonym's (Max Merriwell) psuedonym (Mary Maxwell) to provide a fresh take on the myth of the feral child, a premise as old as Romulus and Remus, familiar to afficionados of literature and adventure fiction alike. Whether she herself feels this experiment has been successful is for her to say. However, she certainly SEEMS to be having fun.

The book's obvious model is Burroughs' TARZAN OF THE APES, although one can sense echoes of books like Kipling's THE JUNGLE BOOK, Hudson's GREEN MANSIONS, and even Jane Auel's CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR . It tells the story of young Sarah MacKenzie, who, surviving an attack on her family that leaves her parents dead, is adopted by a wolf pack which makes its home in the California woods. Growing to young adulthood, Sarah becomes a legend to both her pack and the denizens of California, acting as saviour for many endangered travelers. Along the way, Sarah is befriended by the journalist/artist Max Phillips, who helps her seek her roots. But, even as she does so, she is threatened by one of the men who killed her parents, who has since become a pillar of the community in a nearby Gold Rush town.

Wild Angel is a celebration of story itself--Murphy, who, by quoting Twain in the epigram to the first chapter ("Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attmepting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."), makes her intentions quite clear, acknowledges as much in her afterword. Writing the book seems to have reconnected her to the love of fiction which sparked her love of writing fiction in the first place, opening her mind to the possibilities of fiction. As with so many writers, it's hard to know for sure exactly "who" is writing these books, the "real" writer, or the psuedonyms, which seem to have freed her to take her fiction in new directions. Witness her own remarks, which echo those of writers like Stephen King, Donald Westlake and Ed McBain in discussing their own pen names:

"As a writer known for my feminist leanings, the doubly layered psuedonym added an interesting aspect to the writing of this novel. Throughout the writing of Wild Angel, I was aware that i was a woman, writing as a man, who was writing as a woman. Twisted and confusing, I know, but necessary in a strange way. Max has the confidence to believe that anything he writes is wonderful, Mary shares that confidence--but modifies the subject matter to match a woman's experience."

She goes on to state that :

"I have created psuedonyms who have become characters who have been writing books that I enjoy--but wouldn't have been written without them. It has been a strange and wonderful experience."

Indeed, Murphy has grown increasingly playful as her experiment progresses, even providing afterwords from both Mary and Max. Further evidence of this playfullness is evident is her use of Gitana, the Gandalf stand-in from THERE AND BACK AGAIN, in WILD ANGEL, and in the appearances of Pinkerton operative "Patrick Murphy" and a young Mark Twain late in the story.

WILD ANGEL is, like its predecessor, a simple pleasure, a book that weds the humor and magic of a folk tale with a very modern feel for the psychological dynamics between men and women, exploring the fine line between civilization and savagery. It has been crafted and executed with skill, intelligence and wit, radiating Murphy's evident love of genre fiction, a love which, as evidenced by the success of this narrative, has been requited.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read for anybody who loves wolves and strong-willed women 14 Nov 2005
By B. Caver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a book I was really saddened to finish. I truly hated to say goodbye to Sarah McKensie, the main character of the novel, who was transformed by the skillful writing of Pat Murphy into someone I soon grew to deeply like and long to know.

"Wild Angel" tells the tale of a young girl who, after watching her parents gunned down at age three, is raised by wolves and becomes a strong willed and strong muscled heroic savage. Murphy's novel is unabashedly based on the great works of pulp fiction, particularly the Tarzan series, and as such doesn't pretend to be a great classic of social and intellectual literature. Who cares? Possibly because of that, it was one of the most wonderfully enjoyable reads I've experienced in a very, very long time.

Despite the style of writing it was based on, the novel often rose above the level of pulp fiction through Murphy's eye for fine detail. As someone who knows a bit about wolves, I can say that the members of Sarah's non-human family behaved very realistically, and it is clear that Murphy did her research on the biology and behavior of wild canines before writing this volume. (And although exceedingly rare, there have been several well documented cases of abandoned children being raised by non-human surrogate parents. A well-known example is Kamala and Amala, two young girls discovered living with wolves in 1920 near Midnapore, India.) Likewise, so is the Wild West portrayed realistically. Well, yeah, there were some fudges of historical facts here and there, but the feel and flavor of life during those times was played in a caring, painstaking way that made suspension of disbelief extremely easy throughout the story's 180 pages.

I soon became totally entwined in Sarah's life and joyfully became party to her experiences. I unexpectedly found myself crying as she cried during a particularly mournful scene in the middle of the book. And by the end, I was howling with her in pleasure. After the book came to a close, I found myself restlessly looking around the four walls of my room, and I realized I was being drawn toward the open spaces, where I drove and, in a midst of trees, away from all other people, I howled again, this time in sadness for the fact that I would never hear of Sarah again.

Yeah, the book was that good.

My main wish at the end was that it was like the Tarzan books in another way - that Sarah's story also stretched across 24 novels, which would mean I could possible have another 23 chances to read of her life's saga.

Goodbye, Sarah McKensie. You won't soon be forgotten. And thank you, Pat Murphy, for another fine piece of writing.
3.0 out of 5 stars Sarah of The Wolves a la Tarzan (3.5 stars) 8 Feb 2007
By Michael Bond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pat Murphy is a very talented, prolific and interesting writer. I find her use of nested pseudonyms amusing and confusing. This story is somewhat of homage to a childhood favorite of hers, Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan series (along with other great stories). It tells of a child lost in the wilderness that is adopted by a pack of wolves, survives and eventually encounters other people, including Max Phillips a writer/artist from back east whose name is close to Max Merriwell, a pseudonym/character of Pat Murphy's and whose initials a MP, the reversal of those of the author.

The story is simple and where it is contrived, we will blame Burroughs, who, according to Pat, shamelessly took liberties with plot and circumstance to make a story work. Pat Murphy would never do that of her volition.

This is part of a project that included "Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell" and "There and Back Again". Of the three, I enjoyed this one the least, considering it to be the least inventive - yes, "There and Back Again" was a complete parody/rewrite of The Hobbit, but I enjoyed the SF aspect.

If you've read the other Pat Murphy books, read this one. If not, read the others first.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful adventure!!!! 28 Sep 2000
By Amy Thomson - Published on Amazon.com
For those of us who felt shut out because all the really great adventure novels were about men and boys, here's one for you! Pat Murphy does Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jack London one better in this riveting adventure about a young girl raised by wolves in the gold country of California. And those male fans of Burroughs and London will find plenty to like here as well! The setting is beautifully rendered, the characters are warm and believable, and her history is impeccable. Despite all that, you'll like it anyway! This is an adventure novel with a heart!
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