Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Lovely Story, Angel's Harp, by Philip Newey, Fascinates and Delights! Then Explodes!
Angel's Harp
By Philip Newey

"I know you didn’t like maths, but the music is there too. Pi is like a note that goes on forever, like a ripple on the water that never quite dies away. And the bonds in molecules vibrate too, making endless symphonies. Each molecule is a little angel’s harp. That’s about the sum total of what I get out of maths, physics and chemistry. Actually, it’s a lot to take away from it, but it won’t help me pass my exams!"
"Did you ever see the movie, Portrait of Jennie? It’s about a painter who meets this young girl in Central Park. She’s wearing old-fashioned clothes. He meets her at intervals, and each time she has aged more than she should have. She talks about things that happened years ago as if they were happening now. He falls in love with her. At the end he tries to save her from drowning; but he can’t, of course, because she died years earlier."

Some stories seem to be inspired, don't you think, from something outside of the author, the writer who sits down with a pen or in front of a computer... And something mystical comes from that hand... That's how I feel about this novel--it's a fantasy, paranormal that takes you outside of reality and allows you to dream, "what if..."

It was an indulgence, perhaps. A scattering to the wind of money he might well have dispensed more wisely. But it had evolved into far more than a holiday. It had become a kind of pilgrimage, a journey into healing. Or so he hoped. He might almost be able to believe in something again. In what wasn't yet clear. In humanity? In God? In himself? He had seen all that he had hoped to see, and more. Stonehenge at dawn on the summer solstice, listening to Sonnenaufgang...

This book "almost" seems like a biography, the story of the life of Alan Carter...beginning in his young years and moving forward. But he's just a character...or was he? "What if?..." His life has been broken down into Movements--you know, like in music? In fact, you may start to hear that angel's harp playing during some parts of the novel... 

We meet Alan at home when he was just six, somewhat introverted, he "believed" in just about it wasn't surprising that it happened to him...

Melanie was just six-months younger when she moved into the house next door. She saw Alan one day through the back fence between their homes and became immediate friends. At first, they didn't even mention the other to their parents, although they had seen what was happening. They were on Melanie's side of the fence when they found it...a box! What could it be? Together they opened it excitingly. There was a necklace, a beautiful crystal and letter and pictures. Of course, Melanie
With a profound sense of drama,
Alan lifted the lid. Inside was a large
 plastic bag. He tipped the contents 
onto the bed. There was a silver chain
 with a crystal pendant – 
‘See, treasure!’ she exclaimed –,
 a small photograph album, containing
 black and white photographs, 
and two notebooks. Melanie 
immediately claimed the silver chain
 and crystal. The photographs
 appeared to represent a family,
 sometimes grouped together, 
sometimes photographed separately.
 The pages of the two notebooks
 were covered with writing, which
 Alan could make out only with 
difficulty. ‘We should take these to
 your mum,’ said Alan, half-heartedly.
 ‘No!’ protested Melanie. ‘I want this,’
 she indicated the crystal.
 ‘It’s prob’ly magic.’

placed the necklace around her neck and they decided that Alan should take the letters and pictures to see what was there...

While they remained friends as they grew older, Alan's feelings for Melanie grew. Melanie, on the other hand, gained friends easily and by high school they rarely talked... until Alan asked her to go to a dance. Instead of moving closer, however, Melanie began to share secrets to her trusted friend and told him that she would probably not go back to school, but would start working... Alan realized that she had never really knew that he loved her...

Inside my breast there beats a crystal
 Not flesh and blood but like a song

 Played by a minstrel
 On strings that stretch along The sky,
 from horizon to horizon, 
Passing through my breast 
Vibrating ’til I rest.  

Inside my womb there beats a drum

 Of flesh and blood, not like a song,
 But pulsing like the hum
 Of strings that yet belong 
Beneath the earth; 
Passing through my womb, 
Vibrating ’til the tomb.

It was about that time that he remembered the letters they had found so long ago--and that he had never read them... Thus Movement 2 begins...

During the mid-1940s, Beth had lived in the same house as Melanie, next door to Alan. Now, it was Alan who was reading the journal that Beth had once written. She had started writing when she was 12. Her mother had died and, although her grandmother had moved in with Beth and her father, she needed to discuss personal things. I imagine it was extremely difficult for Alan to be reading of her personal thoughts, as she struggled to understand relationships, her sexuality, and desires. 

There were also nightmares, visions, of blood for her that were very scary... And then she stopped writing, with an ending note of now knowing what she had to do...

It was then that Alan started writing to her! No, he couldn't send them, but he wrote nevertheless...
For a young man who had lost the one friend and love he'd had, it must have been a mystical experience to perhaps get to know Beth more than he had ever known Melanie, the girl next door...

Alan moved into Movement 3 when he became a Anglican Priest... After obtaining his credentials, he began working at a psychiatric hospital. He had married early but was still surprised when his wife sought a divorce. At the same time, he realized that he wouldn't really be missing her much.

Reading of his patients is not an easy thing, but he found that he was able to make some progress. Much of his work was dealing with suicides and family issues. An older woman, Lisa, had taken a fancy to him and would constantly ask if he were married. When he wasn't, he truthfully said that he wasn't, but that it would be awhile before he considered looking for somebody new. Lisa immediately explained that her daughter was coming to visit and that she was very beautiful--not as beautiful as her, but she wanted him to meet her.

When he did, he learned a shocking truth... And Movement 4 began...

As I was preparing to write my review, the first word that came to mind was "lovely." I still ponder why... I loved the synchronicity of what was happening... But then I remembered the surprising ending! Why had I forgotten what happened? It had shocked me and I sat numbly when I finished the book, I remembered... Why did it end that way? What had the author wanted to share with this ending? 

Still, after a few days had passed before I was ready to write the review, the words lovely, fascinating and delightful had been the words I wanted to use. Do we set aside that which we abhor and forget that it happened? And remember only what brought happiness, joy to our lives? I still don't have an answer for myself. I did indeed experience all of the feelings I've shared, though I was devastated with the ending...

This book is memorable. Now that I've forced myself to remember the ending, I will not soon forget...yet... I loved the story, how it all came together... The final ending for at least one person who happily found a part of her past life... In the end, we must take both the good and the bad...???


My Writer's page:
My business page: All-read-E (manuscript assessment, copy editing and proofreading)

Everyone wants to write at least one novel, right? Well, from a very early age, somewhere in my mid teens, when I began to read in earnest, I know that I have. It probably had something to do with that terrible-beautiful teenage angst that many of us pass through. From that time onwards I began to write: novels, short stories - and completed none of them. I would start with an enormous surge of energy and inspiration - which would fizzle out after a few pages or chapters, or after a few days. I had a host of ideas and themes, but nothing that, in the end, held up as a story.

It was only at the beginning of 2012, in my 55th year, that I actually succeeded in completing a novel. At the time I was passing through another of those periods of angst - is that the midlife crisis thing happening? No fast cars for me, or pretty young woman. Novels and stories: that's what it was/is about for me. Perhaps more importantly, however, I finally felt that I had lived enough to be able to talk meaningfully about life, the universe and all that.

I like to write the kind of books that I like to read. That is, stories about real people in real situations; so people who want high adventure, mystery, science fiction, fantasy etc. can look elsewhere. (I do read those too, by the way.) It seems to me that what makes people "tick", what goes into being a human being, forming relationships, making decisions, making mistakes - these things are as mysterious, exciting, frightening as any mystery or fantasy we might devise. So, to a large extent, I write for myself. But I am immodest enough to think that others might also like to read what I write. In these days of short attention spans and quick fixes, my novels may not have a huge market - at least that is what the conventional publishing world probably believes. Nevertheless, some of you, I hope, will really enjoy the stories I have to tell and the people I introduce to you. I am also immodest enough to believe that my life experience has given me some insights into the way this bizarre human world operates.

So take the time to look at my novels. And, if you happen to like them, tell your friends.
Yours sincerely
Philip Newey

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