Harry I. Freund,
I Never Saw Paris: A Novel of the Afterlife
(Carroll & Graf, 2007)

Harry Freund writes of life and death with wit, humor and a profound sense of justice. His take on a serious subject is both entertaining and, at times, profound.

The story begins as a group of strangers are waiting for a light to change on the corner of 57th Street and Park Avenue in New York City when they are hit by a car and all die. Their lives on Earth end and the angel Malakh appears to them all as they hover between Heaven and Earth.

They are a married Jewish businessman and womanizer; a Presbyterian wife and shopaholic; a Roman Catholic interior decorator and male prostitute; an Evangelical Christian black woman who cleans houses; and a Jewish candy store owner and survivor of Auschwitz. He is the man who died while driving his car and plowed into the others.

Imagine this: the angel Malakh appears to them all and as they hover between Heaven and Earth for seven days they must prepare for the final judgment. It is an encounter group where they must account for their lives; they can't get by with anything. They must be honest.

The angels have their hands full with this group and they complain of being overworked -- a hierarchy of angels that seems to operate like a corporation. Malakh is trained to deal with believers in God, all normal people, while other angels are assigned to the extremely good or the extremely evil.

As the people interact with each other and the angels, they touch upon the nature of good and evil. The dialogue is fast paced and believable, while the plot keeps us guessing. Will they or will they not reach Heaven? I won't give that away.

This is a good book to take with you if you are traveling, or a good book for a discussion group. I highly recommend it.

review by
Barbara Spring

15 December 2007

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