Don't think that Angel of the Willows is all sweetness and light though, it confronts and deals with a whole series of common, and some not so common, everyday issues that many of us struggle with on a regular basis. What Angela Gascoigne has skillfully done though is meld those problems into a lovely, warm story that just makes you go "Ahhh" on numerous occasions.
Her writing style is very different from many other authors I have come across, and yet it is one I found easy and comfortable to read. I particularly liked her "asides to camera", where she would impart a little wisdom of what the character was thinking, directly to the reader (almost like an actor speaking directly to the viewer, away from the story). I found that very endearing and sweet.
The basic premise of Angel of the Willows is not one that is terribly uncommon. A young woman, who dies early in a tragic set of circumstance is given a chance to return to earth and set things right again. We follow Ruby as she sets about to cure the woes of a group of just normal, everyday people living in a middle-class subdivision known as The Willows. Her time to prove herself is limited though and that becomes an important part of the story-line.
The humour in the book in very understated and very British, but also very funny. I just adored it and I would regularly find myself chuckling away at some of the comments uttered by the residents of The Willows.
Angel of the Willows is one of those books that once started is hard to leave alone. I would find myself regularly flicking back onto it when I should be doing other things and that, to me, is the sign of an excellent story. Similarly, reading the last chapter I felt a sorrow that I was parting from these characters that I had grown to love, for the last time. If a book does that to you, it has reached the spot it was supposed to reach.
It deserves the five stars I've given it and it deserves to be read, and read widely. We all need this sort of sweet, gentle story from time to time to keep us feeling that there is some sense in the crazy things that seem to happen all around us.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys warm, uplifting story lines with good, strong characters and a touch of sly humour thrown in for good measure. Well done Angela Gascoigne, I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.