Falling Angels

Falling Angels

2.5 2
by Barbara Gowdy
     
 

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The three Field sisters live in the sanitized suburbs of the fifties and sixties, but their plastic world is askew. They are growing up crazy in a very eccentric, often miserable, sometimes hilarious family. Their home is a war zone ruled by an abusive father - a philandering used-car salesman hooked on booze, guns and discipline. And whenever their mother's

Overview

The three Field sisters live in the sanitized suburbs of the fifties and sixties, but their plastic world is askew. They are growing up crazy in a very eccentric, often miserable, sometimes hilarious family. Their home is a war zone ruled by an abusive father - a philandering used-car salesman hooked on booze, guns and discipline. And whenever their mother's coffee mug is empty they hurry to refill it with whiskey, for they know she's living precariously in the wake of the strange unspeakable act she once committed against the family.

These falling angels - tough-talking Lou; sensible, sentimental Norma; chic, naïve Sandy - go through rites of passage each in her own way. They turn to drugs, swinging sixties sex, schmaltzy fantasy - and, repeatedly, to one another. And, even after her death, they turn to their mother, and to the bizarre love they discover their father bore her, a love he must commemorate at Niagara Falls—


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canadian writer Gowdy's ( Through the Green Valley ) second novel offers many satisfactions. Scrupulously and evocatively wrought, with fully formed characters, it poses but does not quite resolve an intriguing mystery rooted in character and fate. The book opens in 1969, at a funeral of a woman who either jumped or fell from the roof of her track house. The time frame then shifts to a decade earlier, when the woman's daughters discover that years before she had thrown or dropped an infant son over Niagara Falls. The girls--Norma, Lou and Sandy--are fascinated by this unknown sibling and by a parent who spends her life drunk, facing a TV, while the girls' father, a used-car salesman, maintains household order, such as it is. One Christmas, he promises a trip to Disneyland but instead builds, with Norma's help, a bomb shelter, and persuades the family to hole up in it for two weeks. The girls get through the fetid underground days by sipping from their mother's mug of whiskey, which their father keeps topped off. Through it all, the siblings create their own mechanisms for coping. Originally published in Canada to critical acclaim, this novel, a portion of which appeared in The Best American Short Stories 1989 , brilliantly celebrates the bonding that occurs even in dysfunctional families. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Disenchanted eccentrics wending their way through eerie situations seem to be the dominant theme in most of the postmodern ``new fiction.'' Troublesome as these forays into nihilism's gloomy landscapes are, an effective work of new fiction is as bracing as a dive into a chilly pond, offering more than a few surprises with its odd meld of quirky characters and wickedly audacious scenes. Gowdy's is one such dark gem of a novel. Through a series of vignettes it charts the lives of the Field family, recounting bouts of alcoholism, neglect, and verbal abuse. A story otherwise laden with sad escapades, Fallen Angels remains lively throughout because of the inventiveness and strength of its main characters: Lou, Norma, and Sandy. These three unfortunate sisters will amaze readers with their ability to endure the many traumas of childhood and adolescence, despite the antics of their even more unfortunate parents. This coming-of-age novel is not likely to appeal to those who wear a shield of optimism.--Lauren Bielski,``Printing News''

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781569471166
Publisher:
Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
07/01/2003
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.31(h) x 0.55(d)

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Falling Angels 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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