N.M. Kelby,
In the Company of Angels
(Hyperion, 2001)

In the Company of Angels is a well-told tale about angels and miracles set in World War II. N.M. Kelby has created a wonderfully subtle book that looks into who we are as it tells the story and slowly reveals its secrets.

One of the strengths of the book is the people in it. There are no real villains here ... at least not in any of the characters you see for any length of time. There is the nameless German commander who followed his orders to help capture an area and must now command in it. He found out how quickly love can complicate matters and now deals with the after effects. There is Sister Anne, who loved him, but now helps the underground. Her relationship with the townsfolk was hurt by her love. With her is Mother Xavier who has problems of her own.

And then into all of this comes Marie Claire, a foundling rescued from the ruins of her village by the two nuns. She steps into their lives and everything changes.

The book focuses on characters, not the larger scope of World War II. The war slips to the background, but the impact of war does not. There are soldiers in the town now, bringing with them a fear of betrayal and anger. And perhaps there are yet angels and miracles. This is a story of hope in troubled times. It shows some of the roots of the problems that the protagonists face and the answers they find in the end.

In the Company of Angels hides its hope, only to reveal it when it is no longer expected.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]
Rambles: 25 June 2001

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