Friday, 7 December 2001

Andrew M. Greeley: Contract With An Angel (1998)

Edition: Tor, 1999
Review number: 1006

The Faust story is about a man who makes a contract with the devil, selling his soul for magic powers and the caresses of Helen of Troy. In this novel, unscrupulous businessman Raymond Needham makes a contract with an angel, who appears to him on a nearly disastrous plane journey, in which he undertakes to follow angelic guidance for the salvation of his soul. There is a tendency for stories involving angels to be rather sentimental (several films could easily be cited as support for this), and though Contract With an Angel is no exception, it is an enjoyable read.

Though Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, his depiction of angels in his novels is not totally orthodox; but this has little direct effect on this particular story, even if his depiction of God as at least partially female might offend hidebound traditionalists. The angelic purpose is worked out almost entirely through Needham's attempts to restore broken relationships within his family; he is not successful in every case but manages to satisfy the demands of his guardians without much backsliding. (If neither of these statements were true, Contract With an Angel might have been a more literary novel, but probably less enjoyable.) Light and likely to leave a silly grin on the reader's face, Contract With an Angel makes an ideal pick-me-up.

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