- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
The Mark Of The Angel Paperback – 24 Aug 2000
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From Nancy Huston, a Canadian writer who has lived in France for a couple of decades, comes a modest proposal in the form of a novel: maybe millennial fiction shouldn't look forward; maybe it should look back to the shames and sadness of the 20th century. The Mark of the Angel, a bestseller in France, tells the story of Saffie, a young German girl who takes a job as a housekeeper in 1957 Paris. Her employer, a brilliant young flautist named Raphael, falls hard for her, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he finds her "impassive" and "impenetrable." Hard-eyed Saffie seems to sleepwalk through life and, as if in a dream, she and Raphael marry and have a son, Emil. When Raphael sends her off to have his flute repaired one day, he little suspects what he's setting in motion.
In András, the instrument maker, Saffie finds a damaged twin. Both are victims of the horrible experiment of Hitler's war: German Saffie has endured not only rape and torture but also the knowledge of her own family's Nazi sympathies. Hungarian Jew András has lost his family and his country. The two embody the horrors that Europeans visited on each other in the middle of the 20th century. They covertly embark on a five-year affair, during which their love comes to be sorely tested by the Algerian war for independence from France.
Huston's prose is cool, opaque, ironic and intensely romantic. Her style and her story both owe a great debt to Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a debt she seems to acknowledge explicitly: "Saffie is crushed, stifled, petrified by the ... how to put it ... the unbearable tenuousness of the moment ... Dizzy with inexistence, she clutches at András's arm--and he, misunderstanding, sets Emil down in a chair on the café terrace--turns to his lover--takes her in his arms and begins to waltz with her ... Ah! Thanks to András, the hideous unreality of the world has been held at bay once again, movement has turned back into true movement, instead of immobility in disguise." Kundera's preoccupation with Nietzsche's concept of the eternal return is clearly at work here too: the past, Huston warns us loud and clear, is never past. --Claire Dederer
"You may never read a novel crafted with more wonder and mystery than Nancy Huston's The Mark of the Angel. At once compelling and highly original, it probes not merely the characters' hearts and lives but the very nature of storytelling." -Arthur Golden, author of Memoris of a Geisha "Huston's language is beautiful, with startling juxtapositions of imagery.... Huston has made a chilling and beautiful work of art." -"Boston Phoenix" "Describing Nancy Huston's wonderfully provocative and enigmatic new novel as a tale of adultery in the dreary and uncertain Paris of 1957-1963 is to suggest that The Scarlet Letter is about infidelity and Moby Dick about whaling.... This is a superbly readable story spun with perfect ease and balance." -"The Providence Journal" "The writing style is almost tactile, like a dressmaker caressing a fine peice of silk or satin the better to show it off. Huston has a sensitive yet sure-handed grasp of her craft." -"Washington Times" "A brilliant, powerfully written novel." -"Rocky Mountain News" "At once [a] love story, war tale and psychological thriller....An engaging, intelligent novel." -"The Plain Dealer"See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Set amidst the violence of yet another war, this time the horrors of the Algerian conflict, and ending with a further tragedy, Nancy Huston's novel made for an unusual and thought-provoking read. Yet somehow I was not as moved by this novel as I would have expected, especially considering some of the subject matter covered in the story. I think this may have been partly due to author's style of writing, with quite a number of short sentences, some of them comprising of just one or two words, and many instances where the sentences ended with ellipses ( ... ) which I found a little distracting. I also found the manner in which the author delivered some of the story's very sensitive issues, in such a matter-of-fact way, rather disconcerting. On the cover of my edition there is a quote stating that the author "places herself as a detached observer" - and that is rather how I felt myself, almost as a detached observer from what I feel should have been a very emotive and involving story. That is not to say that I was unaffected by the issues covered in this novel, or that I did not learn anything from the experience of reading it, but just that I could not really get as involved in the characters or their situations as much as I would have liked or expected. But, of course, that could be the fault of this reader, and not the fault of the writer.
The seemingly simple style of this story could make some readers believe that it's just a 'pulp romance' novel -- there are, however, layers of psychological levels to the characters and a complexity in the way setting and storyline are entwined together that make this novel far from being simplistic or a 'pulp romance' novel. Saffie, the female protagonist, is a difficult character to read -- and agreeably unpleasant at times -- and that's why makes the story even more intriguing; we are not dealing with nice and 'normal' cardboard cut-out characters, where everything is beautiful and everyone holds hands at the end of the story.
This book is not a lovely love story, but a character study on how war tears down the fabric of human nature, how it effects everyone for years to come, even for genertations to come -- it a story about confusion, betrayal, jealousy and revenge. Nancy Huston has done a wonderful at showing how difficult it can be to deal with the world around us, and how sometimes human behaviour can be misinterpreted by those who live in a protected world.
'The Mark of the Angel' is a disturbing tale of passion and survival, which makes the reader reflect on the humand condition long after the book has been read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The narrator's voice weaves expertly between story-teller and omniscent observer.
There is one moment in particular - I will not spoil it by saying which - where this is done absolutely perfectly.
It has been a long time since I've read a book where I noticed, and yet didn't find abrasive, the author's voice. Just the opposite, in fact.
And of a young French man who discovers a love for this woman, and determines to bring her to love and passion.
And, of a young Hungarian Jew, who does reach this lost soul. Teaches her what love truly is. And releases her from the bonds of her tormented past. In his love, and in his arms.
A romantic tragedy that will touch you to the core, I highly recommend this read taking place in the late 1950's and early 1960's of France and it's tumultuous upheaval.
I give The Mark of the Angel Five Stars and my Thumbs Up! award!
***Disclosure: This book was provided through a book exchange for review.