Since the loss of his
lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has
been operating on autopilot, performing his church duties by
rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church loby and
encounters a radiant, luminious being lit from behind, breathtakingly
beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment
Paul is so taken by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his
knees and pray.
Even after he regains his focus and realizes that he
has only seen a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense
of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overhwelming
attraction to the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his
thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has
spoken to him through the vision and he must figure out what God is
asking him to do.
Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's
ministry, but will put him at odds with the church he loves as he is
forced to examine his deeply held beliefs about himself, his community
and the nature of love.
Write named Angel Best Ebook of 2011
The best ebook I’ve
read this year was Angel
by Laura Lee. It
told a story that, at first glance, seems as impossible as Annie
Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain
seemed. Lee manages to talk
about religion without being preachy, about homosexuality without being
political, and about life’s stages without being condescending. It’s an
amazing read and one that I would highly recommend.
(the site also included
Angel in its list of the Top
myself contemplating not
only issues of human sexuality, but also issues of privacy, issues of
prejudice and stereotypes, issues of church politics, and the variety
of ways in which love and sexuality coexist in the human experience in
ways both new and old.
page-turner... Lee writes
with insight and flounce, and you just can’t put the darn thing down...
The story ends appropriately, which is all I dare say on that matter,
except to promise it will leave you thinking about the not-so-subtle
discrimination against sexual orientation in today’s Christianity, and
the emotional scars and marginalizing it causes.
(note: this page has some mature content)
a book makes me think … obviously, this one does. As
such, it deserves additional discussion, and this time around it gets
five stars. That the between-the-lines message of the book still grips
me is a testament to its importance within its Christian setting... It
feels odd to call this “Christian literature”... (but) She tackles an
intimidating topic head on, and does so in an unforgettable manner.
Five stars, yeah, because this is a Christian topic. Let’s climb this
social mountain together.
This is a love
story. Written with the depth and insight of The Prisoner’s Wife
by asha bandele or Written
on the Body by Jeannette Winterson, Angel is a surprising piece
of literature...Angel is an exploration of faith, an
exploration of the nature of love, and forces the reader to think about
the difference between private and public identity. I have to
admit, this one made me cry a number of times. The raw emotions,
the lyrical writing and the unadulterated adoration Paul felt
for Ian was overwhelming at times...Angel is a book that
needs to be read a few times. It should be essential reading for
Gender Studies and seminary in dealing with issues of
sexuality. It’s deep, it’s thoughtful, its beautiful and evocative.
Angel challenges the reader to look at themselves,
their lives and re-examine their preconceived notions. Most of
all though Angel is a love story. And you should
Approach (note: this page has some mature content)
The bond between
Paul and Ian is an evolution, a personal and private benediction and a
communion of souls... It’s impossible to
read this book and not bring personal beliefs and biases into it. Your
own personal mythology might weigh either favorably or unfavorably into
what Laura Lee has to say. Angel is a book that’s contemplative and
provocative, a work of true literary fiction in its purest form...
The beauty of this
story is that it is unconventional in every way. It tackles several
controversial themes including intergenerational relationships,
homosexuality within religion, and the fluidity of sexual orientation.
Initially Paul does not consider himself gay or even bisexual. I was
impressed by the manner in which he discovered that love is love, and
when this blessing occurs within one’s life, it truly is a gift from
God... I was moved to tears throughout the story, and it reminded me of
Brokeback Mountain. This is not to say that it is a light or easy read.
It is heartbreaking actually, but very poignant.
Ian is my favorite character. He is so flawed and yet so beautiful.
He’s cute and charming and self-effacing. I understood how Paul fell in
love with him. I think I fell in love with Ian myself...Of course, the
villain in the story is homophobia, and it’s truly ugly. This aspect
alone makes the book an emotional challenge. This is an amazing debut
novel—well written and edited, inspiring, uplifting, and
thought-provoking. I don’t hesitate to recommend it highly...Angel is a
powerful story, one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed this year.
Reviews by Amos Lassen
Laura Lee is a brave woman to take this
on and if that isn’t enough of a compliment, I will say now that the
book is beautifully written...
As one reads, it is difficult not to think about human sexuality and
privacy, prejudice and intolerance and the power of the church to
control lives. We are forced into thinking and we realize that even
though this is not a comfortable book, it is a necessary one that
should be read by every member of the clergy and every person who has
trouble with accepting difference. Is not a man of God still a man with
urges and desires? Laura Lee takes the issue and runs with it and she
does not shy away from any aspect of religion and sexuality.
fiction sounds kind of like a Volvo with a gun rack, but Angel
convinced me. This is a fresh story
that never veers into the territory of Bible-thumping (for which I was
grateful) and features real characters over caricatures...On the
outside it looks like it could be a meditation guide or a book of
spiritual philosophy, but it’s actually a really touching love story
that explores the capacity of the human heart and the unnatural
sanctions society puts on natural behaviour...I found Angel
to be a moving story, one that I would
read again in the future. All the characters are so endearing that
before long, you’ll want to visit their lives again.
writes with a sense of humour... but also with a deep and profound
knowing, a questioning and reflection. It is beautiful and somewhat
poetic, filled with symbols and metaphors. I loved the reading
experience, the sheer believability of the characters, the people’s
flaws, everything. This book was a page-turner...There
are so many quotable things in this novel that I would love to list
down, words and phrases, whole passages and sentences, but right now it
will only make this review longer than it has to be...
Owl Tell You
It’s thoughtful and
intellectual... I love fun, light-hearted reads as much as the next
person, but there’s just something about a book that really speaks to
me... It really displayed love in all its
beautiful imperfection. It wasn’t all butterflies and sunshine and
happiness and I really appreciated that. There was jealousy and
insecurity and arguments. Love is messy, but wonderful and this book
really demonstrated that... I loved Paul from the beginning. His faith
is true and steadfast, but not fanatical. There are several theological
discussions between him and Ian, and a lot of those really made me
think...I found Paul’s struggles with his church community sad, but
very realistic...I highly recommend this book. It was beautiful and its
depth really blew me away.
situation for Paul is undoubtedly difficult as he falls deeper and
deeper in love with Ian... Here is a man completely devoted to God and
his church, and yet he feels he has to hide something that makes his
soul come alive...
For all of his faith Paul should be a better man, and yet this story
does a superb job of showing just how fallible man really is.
This is not a trashy book by any
means - it's stunningly real and romantic, and an amazing depiction of
people realizing what really matters to them and their calling in
life... I loved it.
Dark Divas Review
The story is not
precisely “gay for you” or even “out for you,” but probably the most
genuine expression of “love the specific person” I’ve read. Paul
struggles with the categories, not thinking of himself as gay or bi, or
even actually heterosexual. He’s never questioned his desires before,
apparently since he never needed to, fantasies being only fantasies. By
book’s end, he hasn’t quite come to any conclusion but that he cannot
stay in the ministry. Ian’s more straightforward; he’s definitely gay
and the church he grew up in rejects him completely for it.
The men are very complimentary, each teaching the other some important
lessons...Approach Angel as a literary quest and questioning
of Christian attitudes to homosexuality and love, not as a romance, and
it will be a more satisfying read because the story and Ian raise some
extremely good points.
character, Paul, is someone who is really looking for a transcendent
experience and he’s looking for a deep and meaningful kind of
relationship that goes beyond the superficial. So for him, his
relationship with this young man has a very deep, spiritual element and
he is trying to find very deep meaning in it, and this is contrasted by
the reaction he is getting from society and how it might seem to other
"…I didn’t set out
to write a controversial book about homosexuality and the
church. I set out to write about mountains and ministers and
My sense is that if you set out to make a point or be
controversial, the end product will
probably not resonate. On the other hand, if there
is a story you find yourself
called to tell, and you find yourself nervous
about how it will be received,
it is probably authentic and you should not shy away from
telling it as honestly as you can."
“I wanted (my character) Paul
to be attracted not just to the spirituality of Christianity, and not
just to Jesus, but to the church, to the community of the church and to
the structure of the church. There’s a big movement of ‘I love Jesus
but not the church,’ but I wanted Paul to love both. It was important
that he loved the church and that the church was not inauthentic, that
there was something really important for him there.”
you have to go where the story goes. Whatever
the themes and the philosophical points, they're kind of like the
spice. You can't make that into a book, not a fiction book."
who is a religious leader
who is dealing with these issues has a lot of power for people... I
enjoy both (writing fiction and non-fiction). They're very
different processes. I like the humorous reference. It's
more market driven. You come up with an idea and sell it and then
you have something to hang your humor on. I've figured out that
process. So with the fiction, I'm still kind of exploring this
new territory. So now I like the fiction (better than writing
non-fiction)... It's hard to build a career on writing in all different
directions, but I think that as a writer that's what you really want to
like the concept of faith in religion. Faith doesn’t mean believing a
set of dubious intellectual propositions because an authority tells you
to. Faith means trust. It means trusting in something that isn’t always
apparent or provable. There is very little proof that what you write
matters. There is a lot more discouragement than encouragement in
general. Only a few blessed writers make a living wage, much less
wealth. If you’re lucky you have a few special people who encourage you
and tell you to keep going, and that it matters that you do. If you
don’t, you have to have faith in yourself."
a person who courts controversy, and I don’t personally feel as though
what I wrote is controversial. I tried to write something
Owl Tell You
there is a long discussion of obituaries early on in the book is that
it sets up this theme of identity as a story other people tell about us
vs. identity as our subjective experience of the world. It’s not as
easy as saying, “My subjective experience of myself is true and your
opinion doesn’t matter.” We are who we are in relation to other people.
So it is a balancing act to be authentic to your sense of self while
maintaining relationships with other people. The action takes
place in a church community, but any community comes with the same
types of dynamics. I may change, but there are other people who are
invested in the person they believe me to be or who I have been to them.
"I don’t think it was my job as
the writer to tell anyone how to think about anything. It was my job to
tell the story of these characters. I tried not to— I don’t want to say
‘take sides’ because I love my characters and I’m on their side. I
didn’t come at it saying, ‘here’s my point that I want to make and
here’s my political point and I’m going to change your mind about this
"For better or
worse, I inherited my father’s belief that I had to write a
novel. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do that. So my
father gave me both encouragement and drive. When he passed away
in 2004, I had to go through a process of finding the support I had
been able to get externally from him within myself. Some of my
process in dealing with that loss informed the character of Paul, who
is a widower. He’s had a hard time finding
inspiration for his ministry after his wife’s death. So the novel
is dedicated to my father."
"What is interesting
is that it is probably the least autobiographical fiction I’ve ever
written and yet it draws on every part of my life. There are a few
anecdotes here and there that are true stories. There are aspects of
Paul that are more like me, and aspects of Ian that are more like me."
"I inherited the
idea that the pinnacle of being a writer was being a novelist. When I
was younger I felt a real pressure to write a novel and to make it
good. I'm not saying anyone else made me feel that way. I put the
pressure on myself. So I worked on it a lot. I was frustrated a lot.
Interestingly, after all that work, there came a point where I let
myself off the hook and said I didn't have to write a novel. I was good
at the non-fiction. I was proud of my body of work. I didn't have to be
anything else. Once I allowed myself not to do it, and took that
pressure off, that's when it flowed. I was not doing it for anyone else
or to prove anything. It was just a joy to write and play. Angel took
me out of myself and I was able to just step aside and let the story be
told. The thing is, I had to do all of that slog beforehand to get to
the point where this was possible. It took years of effort to get to
the place of effortlessness."
its really more about who we are in
society, what roles we play, what labels we give to ourselves and other
people give us and how those things impact our lives... I would
think all of those things would be relevant to people who come at it
through a spiritual door or through a secular door...I think that
(Paul) was attracted to a similar energy that Sara (his wife) and Ian
(the young man) had... I'm not attracted to men I'm attracted to a
particular subset of men. I'm attracted to a particular kind of
person, and I think that's true for all of us... (but) we're not
compelled to categorize ourselves socially that way, like 'I'm a