The Angels’ Share by Laurence Shames (Quickie Book Review)

When one of your favorite authors suddenly stops writing, you naturally assume something calamitous has happened. So you trawl the Internet for information–only to be confronted with the stark reality that, though alive and kicking, said author has simply hung up his novelist’s hat until further notice, and all because he moved from Key West to California.

Fair enough, everyone’s entitled to pause in their tracks and rethink life as they know it. Nevertheless, you, the reader, feel bereft. At least, I did.

But Laurence Shames fans can now rejoice. He has at long last published a new novel: The Angels’ Share.

But it’s not what you might expect. It’s not a Key West book; in fact, it doesn’t even mention Key West. And there is not a single mafioso to be had. Instead of taking up where he left off, Shames has written a love story, or rather, three love stories that take place in Santa Barbara wine country and–brace yourselves–in the afterworld. And it has angels in it. Angels who descend to earth and meddle in the affairs of still-living humans. But it is not what might come to mind with a romance involving angels. It is not soppy, and it’s not twee. For one, Shames doesn’t do soppy and twee. As always, his style is elegant, sensitive, and smart, with an underlying dry humor that suits the story perfectly.

The plot is simple: Darcy’s father, a philandering cheat, dies on the operating table and goes to the afterworld. There, he meets his still-resentful ex-wife. Despite her frosty welcome, they find a common ground in their concern for their daughter’s happiness. Before long they start interfering in her budding romance with Paul, a wine maker. But love is not for mortals only. Up in the afterworld, Darcy’s parents confront old regrets, lost opportunities, and the potential of love everlasting. The third love story involves two musicians who met and parted too young and spent the last fifty years on earth pining for one another. That’s basically it, albeit in a very small nutshell.

There are no cliffhangers here. But you don’t need them, or even want them, because this novel is not about the plot. It is about feelings and understanding that may come too late, about redemption, forgiveness, hope, and the strength to follow your heart–all good stuff. And Shames writes in such an engaging style that you’ll want to finish it in one sitting, and you don’t mind at all that it ends the way you thought and hoped it would end. In short, The Angels’ Share is a sweet, philosophical novel told with sensitivity and sense, and if you’ve enjoyed Shames’ previous novels, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

Short grumble: I just wish he had written it sooner!

Oh, and it’s only available as an e-book on Amazon. It looks like Shames has joined the growing band of indies.

See http://www.laurenceshames.com

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