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River Angel

A. Manette Ansay

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ISBN 10: 0688152430 / ISBN 13: 9780688152437
Condition: As New Hardcover
From Dan Pope Books (West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

NY: Morrow, 1998. First edition. First printing. Hardcover. New in Dust Jacket. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # 2567

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Bibliographic Details

Title: River Angel

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition....

About this title


In April, 1991, in a little Wisconsin town about 100 miles southwest of the town where I grew up, a misfit boy was kidnapped by a group of high school kids who, later would testify they only meant to frighten him, to drive him around for a while. Somehow they ended up in the river whooping and hollering on a two lane bridge. Somehow, the boy was shoved, he jumped, he slipped -- accounts vary -- into the icy water. The kids told police they never heard a splash; one reported seeing a brilliant flash of light. (Several people in the area witnessed a similar light, while others recalled hearing something "kind of like thunder.") All night, volunteers walked the rivers edge, but it was dawn before the body was found in a barn a good mile from the bridge.

The owner of the barn had been the one to discover the body and she said the boys' cheeks were rosy, his skin warm to the touch. A sweet smell hung in the air. "It was," she said, "as if he were just sleeping" And then she told police she believed an angel had carried him there.

A miracle? A hoax? Or something in between? With acute insight and great compassion, A. Manette Ansay captures the inner life of a town and its residents struggling to forge a new identity in the face of a rapidly changing world. The result is a novel of transcendental beauty, an extraordinary portrait of the human soul's longing for grace.


A novel named River Angel featuring a character named Gabriel and a town called Ambient lays its cards on the table from the get-go: in her fourth book, A. Manette Ansay is obviously going to feature faith in a big way. As in her previous fiction, Ansay sets this tale in rural Wisconsin, but unlike her earlier work, which focused primarily on individual families, she has widened her scope to encompass an entire community. The story begins when 10-year-old Gabriel Carpenter comes to live with his aunt in Ambient, Wisconsin. An ungainly, unlovely child, Gabriel is shunned by other children and finds solace in a faith in God that verges on the fanatical. He has heard stories from his father about an angel that supposedly guards the banks of the Onion River and starts searching for it--a search that ultimately brings him to the wrong place at the wrong time and thus to the wrong angel--death.

What would have been simple tragedy in another town or another novel becomes the stuff of wonder in Ansay's Ambient: Gabriel's body is found miles from where he died, smelling faintly of flowers and glowing with an otherworldly light. From this point on, the novel focuses on how the various townspeople react to this supposed miracle. The town priest, Gabriel's teacher, the woman in whose barn his body was found--soon just about everybody in Ambient has been drawn into the conundrum of what Gabriel Carpenter's life and death really mean. As a study of human relationships and a meditation on the nature of the divine, River Angel succeeds on both counts.

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