Angel Falls, by Kristin Hannah

>> Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'd read on other book by Kristin Hannah, before reading Angel Falls (excerpt), and it had been completely different, an adventure story.

When Mikaela Campbell, beloved wife and mother of two, falls into a coma, it is up to her husband, Liam, to hold the family together, to care for their grieving, frightened children. Day after day, he sits by her bedside, telling stories of the precious life they have built, hoping, always hoping, that she will wake up. Then he discovers evidence of her secret past: a hidden first marriage to Julian True, a man no woman could resist . . . or forget. Desperate to bring Mikaela back at any cost, Liam turns to the one person who could make her respond-- and who could take her out of his arms forever.
I liked Angel Falls more than I thought I would. A B.

Ok, first of all, I wouldn't say this book is a romance novel, exactly, though there is quite a bit of emphasis on the love relationship between the married protagonists. It has a more women's fiction-ey feel, though this isn't really the heroine's story, but the hero's, so... "men's fiction"? ;-) Oh, scratch that, I refuse to agonize over the label. It's fiction, with a lot of romance in it. Period.

The reason I wasn't too hopeful about liking this was that I'm not the greatest fan of gloomy, depressing stories, and the first 100 or so pages of Angel Falls were really harrowing. They cover the first days of Mikaela's coma, and understandably, everyone around her is pretty much destroyed. This part was well-done, but not particularly easy to read. From then on, though, it was a page-turner. I finished the last 280 pages or so in under 2 hours (I know because it was during a 2-hour bus trip. I finished the book 5 minutes before we got to the bus terminal).

I adored Liam. He's such a wonderfully nice man, that I really felt for him when he was given cause to doubt his wife's love for him and decided to do whatever it took for her to live, even if it meant that she would leave him. He was an immensely likeable guy.

Mikaela I thought was a bit under-written, which is understandable, since she spent 90% of the book either in a coma or completely out of her head and amnesiac. I understand many people who read this book found it hard to like her, but I was always sympathetic to her. Some of her feelings were a bit hard for me to understand (that whole obsession with her first husband, basically), but I thought her behaviour was always honourable, and that she tried her best to have her marriage work.

The amnesia element here worked quite well. It was done realistically, and it wasn't just an excuse for unbelievable plot developments and irritating misunderstandings.

I wasn't crazy too crazy about the whole Hollywood element, which I thought was the weakest of the book. Gratuitous, that was my feeling.

On a more tangential note, how difficult is it for authors to have a native speaker of Spanish to go through all the parts in that language? Most of it was good here, some elements even remarkably authentic, so this made the mistakes even more jarring.


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