Angelology: A Novel

Angelology: A Novel

by Danielle Trussoni


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A thrilling epic about an ancient clash reignited in our time--between a hidden society and heaven's darkest creatures


There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. --Genesis 6:5

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143118466
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/22/2011
Series: Angelology Series
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 381,328
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Danielle Trussoni’s first book, the memoir Falling Through the Earth, was selected as one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times Book Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Danielle resides with her husband and two children in the south of France and regularly spends time in both Bulgaria and the United States. Her debut novel Angelology will be published in over thirty countries. Film rights were purchased outright by Sony Pictures with Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment producing and Marc Forester directing.

Reading Group Guide


It's two days before Christmas, and Sister Evangeline awakens to perform the prayers and devotional duties that have occupied her every day for the past several years. At twenty-three, she is the youngest of the nuns living at St. Rose Convent in New York's verdant Hudson Valley, but Evangeline already expects that each day up to her last will follow the same quiet routine—until a mysterious letter opens the door to a past she cannot deny and a future as terrifying as it is unimaginable.

At first glance, the letter appears quite harmless—a politely worded missive from one V. A. Verlaine petitioning the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration for access to the convent's archives for research purposes. In fulfilling her duties as an assistant in the library, Evangeline has received and turned down numerous similar requests. However, something in Verlaine's letter provokes her curiosity, and she is unable to suppress her desire to know more.

Meanwhile, the letter's writer is en route to New York's Central Park for a scheduled meeting with his current employer, Percival Grigori. Verlaine, an aspiring art historian, and Grigori, an ailing but peculiarly menacing older man, first met at an art auction. When the two discovered their mutual interest in the philanthropic Rockefeller family, Grigori offered to pay him generously for any and all information he possessed or could uncover about the late Abigail Rockefeller.

Verlaine's search leads him to the St. Rose convent, where he crosses paths with Evangeline. The two are instinctually drawn to trust one another, and they share what scant knowledge they possess. Evangeline confirms that Abigail Rockefeller and Mother Innocenta were indeed in correspondence, just about the time a devastating fire nearly destroyed the convent. But Verlaine is still unable to fathom Grigori's interest in a handful of old letters.

Following her only real clue, Evangeline painstakingly unravels the truth of her residence at St. Rose. She discovers that she is the daughter of two angelologists, a group of scholars, theologians, and warriors who have battled the Nephilim—the beautiful and rapacious descendents of fallen angels and humans—since the dawn of time. The golden lyre she wears around her neck is more than a pretty trinket from her grandmother—it is a reminder of the betrayal of God and man, good versus evil, and Evangeline's own destined role in the battle to come.

Grigori himself belongs to a high-ranking Nephilim family who once laid bloody siege to the Sisters hoping to steal the priceless artifact the Grigoris thought might be hidden at the convent. Now that Verlaine has confirmed these suspicions, they will stop at nothing to obtain it.

Masterfully interweaving the events of the present day with those of Nazi-era Europe and the Middle Ages, Angelology is breathtakingly inventive, sexy, and rich with dark, gothic menace.



Danielle Trussoni is the author of the memoir Falling Through the Earth, which was selected as one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times Book Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, she lives in the United States and France.



Q. What inspired you to combine the Orpheus myth with the Biblical tale of the fallen angels?

I began to write Angelology with a very clear picture of the settings I wanted to include in the story. I knew that I wanted to write about a convent and I knew that I wanted to write about The Devil's Throat, a cave in the Rhodopes Mountains of Bulgaria with an amazing waterfall and underground river that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, but I wasn't entirely sure of how to bring the material together.

Knowing that I needed to have a firsthand encounter with convent life, I went to St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin (my hometown) to speak with the nuns who lived there. My great-aunt Drusilla is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration living at St. Rose, and this made my presence at the convent a little less odd, although I'm sure that the nuns didn't know what to think of having a writer trailing after them and asking personal questions!

At the time of my visit to the convent, I had no clear vision of how I would write about the convent. And so I spent a lot of time simply following the Sisters through their day. There was a beautiful chapel at St. Rose where the nuns went to pray. One night, when I was walking back from the chapel, I found myself in the convent reading room, a small space filled with religious books. One shelf of the library was filled with books about angels. I took a stack of books down, sat in a comfortable chair and began reading. Within hours I understood that angels would be at the very center of my book and that the Nephilim—the angel-human hybrids mentioned in Genesis 6 of the Bible—would be central characters.

I came to the Orpheus myth in an equally roundabout fashion. The Devil's Throat captured my imagination when I lived in Sofia, Bulgaria, with my husband, the writer Nikolai Grozni. He took me to the cave for the first time and I fell in love with the stark, craggy landscape and the mythologies that surrounded the cave. In local legend, the Devil's Throat forms the entrance to the underworld where Orpheus descended to save his lover Eurydice. So my interest in Orpheus was really secondary to my interest in the cave itself, at least in the beginning.

Q. How was the process of writing your previous book, the memoir Falling Through the Earth, different from writing the novel Angelology?

The process was completely different in some ways and very similar in others. My first book was a memoir about my relationship with my father and was, of course, much more personal in nature. I found that Falling Through the Earth was more emotionally draining, especially because my father was ill for much of the time I was writing the book. Angelology, on the other hand, was a pleasure to write. I had such fun creating the characters. I found that I deeply enjoyed going to my desk each morning because I would often discover something completely new about the story. By the end, I loved the characters I had created and didn't want the project to end.

Q. What kind of research did you do in order to write Angelology?

Research was a huge element in preparing to write Angelology. I did not have much experience studying theology or the history of religion, and so I felt that it was absolutely necessary to learn as much as possible about the various perceptions of angels. I read a lot of wonderful academic studies about angels and I read quite a lot of the Bible. I read parts of Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine and the history of religious orders in the United States. It was also very important for me to research the historical periods that appear in the novel—the medieval world of Brother Clematis, the Second World War environment of Celestine and Gabriella. I also made many trips to New York to capture Evangeline's and Verlaine's world.

Q. Which did you enjoy writing more, the present-day events with Evangeline and Verlaine or Celestine's narrative?

Actually, the most engrossing section of Angelology for me to write was Brother Clematis's narrative, a first-person journal of a monk's journey to the Devil's Throat. I also loved writing Celestine's recollections of Paris in the 1940s. Both of these characters allowed me to imagine places and historical events that were very far from the life I was living when I wrote the book. Being transported to other places is, for me, is the real pleasure of writing fiction.

Q. One of the novel's conceits suggests that the divide between church and science was engineered by an outside agency. Do you think religion and science have become antagonistic?

Yes, it seems to me that, in many ways, science and religion have parted ways. We don't have many intellectuals like Isaac Newton who are dedicated to exploring both the divine and natural worlds at once. Our era is marked by the division of thought into specialized compartments—either one is a scientist or a historian or a mathematician or a philosopher or a doctor. Indeed, Newton—who was a physicist and an astronomer and a theologian among other things—would probably find our specialized approach to knowledge very strange.

Q. Do you believe that a more-than-human evil lay behind the rise of the Nazi regime and others like it?

In Angelology, the characters posit the idea that the Nephilim are behind all great acts of evil throughout history—war, famine, genocide, and great economic inequality. The angelologists, who are at work to fight the Nephilim, believe that through wealth and influence the Nephilim have created systems—economic, political, social—that suppress regular people. Some of the characters in the novel believe that the Nephilim orchestrated the Nazi rise to power, but of course this speculation is part of the fictional world I've created.

Q. You split your time between the United States and France. Has living abroad altered your perceptions as a writer?

I have always loved the sense of dislocation I feel when I live abroad. I have lived in Japan, Bulgaria and now France. I find that I begin to pay very close attention to my own culture when I'm in a place that is entirely foreign, and that my attention to detail sharpens. The English language becomes very comforting, almost like a cocoon, after fumbling with a foreign language. In the end, it is nice to have the option to live far away from home but then, of course, it is great to come back, too.

Q. Your husband, Nikolai Grozni, is also a novelist. How does living with another writer affect your own work?

In a lot of ways living with another writer helps me to stay on course with my own work. We have a set schedule each day. Both Nikolai and I write in the morning in different offices at home. We work until around lunch, eat lunch together, and then either go back to writing or do the shopping or take a walk. Our morning work hours are very quiet, very calm, with no music or television on, making the house a perfect environment for writing. I am also able to discuss my work with Nikolai, which is unbelievably helpful.

Q. The ending of Angelology has quite a surprise twist. Where do you see Evangeline headed from here?

Evangeline is in quite a difficult situation at the end of Angelology and she will be working through the complications of this in the next book.

Q. What are you working on now?

I am writing about Evangeline, of course! The sequel to Angelology is set in Paris and finds Evangeline and Verlaine trying to find their way back to one another.


  • Do you agree with the angelologists' decision to withhold knowledge of the Nephilim and their schemes from the general human population?
  • The Bible's descriptions of angels are very different from the winged cherubs that have grown to dominate the public imagination. Why do you think we're drawn to the idea of angels while, at the same time, we've chosen to play down their fearsomeness?
  • Celestine seems to lead a half-life after descending into the gorge. In what ways do you imagine mortals would be changed after contact with the divine?
  • Why do you think the Nephilim have chosen to let their forefathers remain imprisoned?
  • If you were Evangeline, would you be able to forgive your parents and grandmother from hiding so much from you? Were they really acting in her best interests?
  • Does Verlaine have the wisdom and courage it takes to be an angelologist?
  • Were the nuns of St. Rose Convent betraying or upholding their vows in battling the Gibborim?
  • Should Gabriella have been cast out from the society of angelologists after begetting a child with Percival?
  • Have you ever visited any of the disassembled lyre's four hiding places? Do you feel that Abigail Rockefeller did a good job of hiding and protecting it?
  • Spoiler Alert Did you suspect that Evangeline might be Nephilim? What do you think she intends to do with her newfound powers?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Angelology 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 568 reviews.
    JL-FR More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed reading this book because it is satisfyingly long, rich and crammed full of characters, stories, historical and fantastic detail. What I call a good read. Trussoni is a sensuous writer who made people, places and eras really come alive for me.even the most surreal and fabulous. I enjoyed the wealth of visual detail: Trussoni's superb descriptions such as of the secret academy in Montparnasse, Paris during the Nazi Occupation. or of a radiant angel corpse preserved deep in a Bulgarian cavern. The plot and pace of this book are very successful too. The pace really picks up and sweeps towards a riveting ending. Love stories and murders seemed almost incidental to the plot; while historical intrigues and family sagas kept me on tenterhooks for more. The Nephilim are a formidable enemy and I found myself really captivated and supporting Gabriella in her quest against them. Hope to hear that there will be a sequel!
    bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
    Good and evil have been at odds since the beginning of time. Sister Evangeline has found herself once again, in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. As a child, she followed her father and caught a glimpse of something not altogether human. Stuffing this find down deep inside herself, she decided that it must not have been real. At 23 she has a discussion with a man named Verlaine who has sparked her curiosity. Together they dig through old letters to find the truth about fallen angels and an item of immeasurable value. There are not any words that can describe how much I loved this book. Amazing. Thrilling. Intriguing. Words just don't measure up. This is one of my favorite books of all time and I can't wait to read more of Danielle's work.
    kdporteus More than 1 year ago
    I believe the author may have been trying to cash in on Dan Brown's success with the religious/mystery genre. Like Brown's work, the premise was intriguing, but the plot line meandering and the characters flat and lifeless. The Biblical references were compelling, but the premise of three plot lines caused confusion, and yes, even some boredom. The novel could have benefitted from some careful editing, as typos and long-winded descriptions were abundant.
    TiredofGarbage More than 1 year ago
    Hard to know how to rate this one - it starts off really well, with well-drawn characters, an interesting plot, and piles of research showing all over. We get the main story, about the nun, Evangeline, and the secrets hidden somewhere in the convent. Then we get the story within a story, about Claudine, the elderly nun, and the formal study of angels. By the time we get to the story within the story within the story, this time about Clematis and the First Expedition to find fallen angels, I started to ask myself, what gives here? Why leave the main characters completely and go off on 2 tangents? When we finally get back to Evangeline and a sudden (and not believeable) love interest, it seemed like a film plot tacked on to a book, as if the first part of the book is a real book, but the last part is a film script - and the 2 parts don't match up that well. Did we need lots of guts and gore at the end - no. Did we need the awkward love scenes - no, we didn't. Did we need to be deceived throughout as to the real identity of Evangeline - nope. There are lots of things that don't add up here, and it's a real shame - for example, we keep hearing about how frail the elderly nuns are, but suddenly they are strong enough to drag and dump large bodies. Like other books marketed to women, like "The Time Traveller's Wife" and "The Fearful Symmetery" this one is a big let down when you realize that it is really science fiction trying to hide itself as romance as a marketing tool. No dice, we are not that easily fooled. I am hoping that somewhere out there, there is an editor who cares enough about the reader's experience to stop the pattern of cheating the reader of a plot that makes sense, an editor capable of returning story telling to an art and not throwing away any sensible plot to sell a book as a script, something that clearly has happened with this book. In summary, I would give the first part of the book 4 stars, the stories within stories 2 stars, and the last third no stars because it was just completely unbelievable, in fact, ridiculously like a bad film script. Next time, I hope that this writer works with an editor and not an agent and an accountant to shape her work, and then her work will be worth reading from start to finish, but not yet.
    charlottesweb93 More than 1 year ago
    Angels are the new vampires!! Angelology by Danielle Trussoni just proves my point. Her debut novel, Angelology is a fast paced thriller that takes you from a convent in upstate New York to war torn Europe and finishes off in a snowy New York City. All to wage a war as old as time. Good versus evil. Put aside everything you think you know about Angels. Angelology is an absolutely wonderful, fast paced novel that is a mixture of factual history with a whole lot of fictional lore. Written in a way that will have you grabbing your Bible to do a little fact-checking of your own. I would say the concept is similar to The Historian, but with the action packed plot of a Dan Brown novel. I enjoyed Angelology so much that I am going to give it a "Best of" tag.
    bdaniel More than 1 year ago
    One of the best novels I have read in a while. Angelology has a great plot and is different than many other fallen angel or Nephilim novels out there. The ending was truely shocking and leaves you wanting more. I can only hope there is a sequel. You will be left thinking they are among us. If you have read THE Mortal Instruments Series you will enjoy this book because it helps you understand more about the Nephilim.
    JGerber More than 1 year ago
    Let me start with this, I enjoyed reading Angelology. I thought that it had an original idea and a compelling characters and a plot that kept me going back to it as soon as I put it down. I tend to choose books that seamlessly blend various bits of history and facts into ideas such as angelology, and if the writer is good enough, I come away with a sense of urgency to google said idea to sort out what is fact from fiction. Danielle Trussoni in my opinion, has managed this feat with her novel. I was captivated from start to finish and loved how the book made me think of landmarks and places in her book that I've personally been to in new ways as well as introducing a foreign subject matter. My only gripe with the book (without spoiling anything), is that I felt that the climatic action towards the ending happened too abruptly and then ended. Unless Ms. Trussoni is planning on penning a sequel, then I feel that is had a justified ending (crossing my fingers because I feel that there is more to the story). Enjoy!
    FinMac More than 1 year ago
    I thought this book totally fell apart about halfway through the part 2. There is no character development. I've always felt that was a cliche' to say but in this case there's just no other way to explain it. There is no hero in the book. The villians are portrayed as nothing more than spoiled children and vandals. The whole second half of the book just made no sense whatsoever. On top of all that, the authors use of emotion was just confusing. In the space of a 30 second conversation character emotions were described as joyous, irritated, grateful, condescending, etc etc etc. Seriously, it was distracting at the beginning, but by the end, I just wanted all the characters to get killed off. That's how poor a job she did of identifying the heroes and villians. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
    NuclearPeanut More than 1 year ago
    I picked up this book after reading the back cover. It sounded interesting. Through the first several pages, I really was intrigued. But about a third of the way through, the part where you learn about Celestine in Paris, I began to get bored with the book. I would count how many pages I had left to read because I will not put down a book once I start it. The problem is that I did not connect with any of the characters, the story was poorly written, and that the story did not go anywhere. The ending was even more confusing and I saw it coming from a mile away. Sorry, that last statement may seem contradictory, but I am trying not to give anything away for people who have not read it. For those who have, you should understand. To sum up, skip this book. There are plenty of better books out there.
    khk-67 More than 1 year ago
    This was a page turner for me. Once I got into the story, I could not put it down. All though the theme is a common one, good vs. evil, I found it to be a new twist. I enjoyed the history that was woven through-out the story and learned quite a bit more about angels. One thing that was disappointing and is a reflection on the publisher, Viking; there were numerous typos, spell check is not reliable, a person still needs to review the copy.
    kpsquirrel More than 1 year ago
    I liked the theme and found the storyline interesting. It was too dragged out though which ended up making it somewhat boring and hard to get through.
    Speak_Easy More than 1 year ago
    This book would have certainly benefitted from a good editor. Inexplicably long with a storyline that often spiraled way off course. I read it to the end hoping for a redeeming conclusion; no such luck. It had the feeling of being written for the sole purpose of selling movie rights, complete with shallow characters and prepped for over-the-top CG. Maybe a good director can pull of the anti-hollywood: make a good movie out of a subpar book.
    meat_dog More than 1 year ago
    This is a book that will make the world occasionally dark and windy. There are creatures afoot that will change your perceptions, and forever change the meaning of the word "angel." I read Trussoni's earlier memoir and found it captivating, and had trepidation about this novel because Falling Through Earth was such a wonderful book. I heard the marketers hype it as the next Da Vinci Code. It's not. Its smarter, more thought provoking, more allegorical. There is a race underway for control of the world, and like an intellectual's "24," it's happening fast. Christmas be damned, the dark angels are itching for a fight. They'll burn nuns and kill researchers and stop at nothing to get an instrument that's twice as red-hot as the lost Ark. Take it home and light a fire in the fireplace. I loved this ride, and the author is more Umberto Eco than Dan Brown.
    blue2280 More than 1 year ago
    I couldn't get through the rampant use of "as if" throughout the book. Was this ever edited? It was a complete distraction to the story line and because it was used so much in describing EVERYTHING, it totally destroyed the flow of the book for me. I had high hopes for this book, as it has some really good reviews, but I just couldn't muddle through it. After a week of trying, I finally put it down. I may or may not revisit it, but I am disappointed.
    Odysseus-Redux More than 1 year ago
    'Angelology' by Danielle Trussoni (2010). A complete satisfaction in that this novel transcends the kitsch of muddled-headed angel-obsession and instead Trussoni writes a superb intellectual and metaphysical adventure that is very much a modernized novel, but feels as though a (positive) throwback to the likes of Umberto Eco (think: Foucault's Pendulum), John Fowles (think: The Magus), Iain Pears (think: The Dream of Scipio), and Harry Mulisch (think: The Discovery of Heaven). Trussoni has crafted a well-balanced alchemy of spheres that is part Dantesque, part esoterica, and the collision of old world mythology and new world discovery. Sidenote and only for the adept: SOTAR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS which was also found in 'Avalovara' by Osman Lins, 1979).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    this is a great story that pulls you on and carries you along.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely loved this book. Just about done with part 2 Angelopolis and i cannot wait for the third one to come out! If you want to find a great book then check this out!
    Mike-D1 More than 1 year ago
    I have trouble putting this book down. I truly believe this would make an awesome movie!!!!
    bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
    CD/Thriller?: Very long at 17 discs. The narrator did a great job with the voices, but I would have never finished the novel if I had the book. There was a lot of extra "stuff" that was not needed verses the quickness of the ending. I had a lot of problems with some of the plot logic, physicality logic, and economic logic of some of the character's wealth. I did like the flashbacks and back story.
    I_am_Andi More than 1 year ago
    The basic storyline is what caught my attention. I think there is potential here - if only the characters were more developed. I would like to see a series based on the idea of angels among us and this could have been a great lead into such a series (I am tired of the endless vampire stuff... and what;s the deal with zombies???). I give this a 3 star rating instead of lower because I do "get" where the author was going and that still leaves me optimistic.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was by no means Tolkein or Hitchens, however the story was entertaining, the ending solid, and the characters kept me coming back. Im hoping that like Eragon's Christopher Paulini, Danielle will continue to evolve as a novelist, and that I will have the good fortune to enjoy the fruits of her labours. -matt love
    aStudyinContradictions More than 1 year ago
    One of three books that I threw across the room after I finished it. A mindless, pointless, horridly paced book that only exists for the author and publisher to cash in on the movie rights. True, a film is in development, and it will likely be far better than its origins; unfortunately that will drive people to read the source material, in a word: DON'T! Trussoni vacillates between a desire to show off how much research she did by plodding along and being incessantly repetitive, and attempting to creating thrilling action pieces that end up sounding like staging instructions. None of the big reveals are shocking (they all come across as "Well, duh!") and yet Trussoni also manages to have the people and creatures of the book act completely contrary to the characterizations she has created. The only redeeming factors of the books, are the chilling descriptions of the fully divine Angels and their subterranean prison. However, five minutes of tension is not worth the rest of my time it took to read.
    patricia Lane More than 1 year ago
    Left me wanting a sequel. I loved the concept. I suppose if one is not particularly interested in biblical fiction than one would become easily lost. Still, in my mind, the concept is unique nd well developed. All the same, I feel that some of the wording and presentation could have been displayed in a more fitting and apropriate way. I myself found portions which I could have writ for the best. I hav no doubt that the ideas were well developed, yet I feel that the same ideas in the hands of a diffrent author would have created a much more possitive effect on the work as a whole and possibly have created one of the best works in exsistance. As it is, the work is good but does not boarder on amazing.
    HeatherM79 More than 1 year ago
    This book was incredible. I own both the hardback and the audio version and they are both amazing. This book took so much work and it shows. But the book is incredibly well written and I found myself swept up in the characters emotions and search and could not wait to turn the page to find out what happened next! This is the best book I have read in over 5 years and I highly suggest that everyone who loves action, history, puzzle solving, and just a plain fantastic book to go out and purchase boh hardback/paperback and audio. Your money will be well spent.
    Austringer More than 1 year ago
    I've read other reviews and cannot fathom why some did not enjoy Ms. Trussoni's first efforts. This book was definitely not my usual genre, and I admit that from the start I was skeptical that I'd even like the book at all considering the subject matter. I was most pleased to find that after the first fifty pages, I was hooked. This book was with me wherever I went as each spare moment I had went to continue my reading. Characters, history, and the way the subject matter was presented made all seem believable. My only disappointment was its length, as I wanted this book to go on. I'm looking forward to the sequel.