Stella Matutina
books and stories and musings, oh my!
Review Rerun: The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox 
29th-Nov-2012 07:00 am
I was mighty tempted to include both THE VINTNER'S LUCK and THE ANGEL'S CUT in my Rerun Month, but I held myself to my one-book-per-series rule. The review below (which first appeared on December 10th, 2009) is not, perhaps, the most coherent thing I've ever written, but I adore the book so much that I'll take any opportunity to promote it. It's one of those things that worms its way into your very soul. I hope you'll give it a read.

cover art for The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox, featuring the title against a picture of a white, feathered wing that takes up the entire coverTitle: THE ANGEL'S CUT
Author: Elizabeth Knox
Series: this is the sequel to THE VINTNER'S LUCK
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: May, 2009
Pages: 448
Status: keeper, keeper, keeper!

LibraryThing Info

The Angel's Cut for purchase on The Book Depository

I hate summarizing fiction at the best of times, but summaries give me the most grief when the book in question isn't really about its plot. THE ANGEL'S CUT does possess a plot--one that involves filmmaking and flying and the ways in which people come together and drift apart--but it's really about the characters and the connections between them. The angel Xas comes to California in 1929, looking for work as a pilot. His friend Millie, a stunt flier who wants to open her own flying school, introduces him to a filmmaker who's hard at work on a movie about an air ace. This, in turn, brings him into contact with Conrad Cole, an eccentric millionaire who fancies himself both a director and an aeronautical engineer. Flora, a film editor who sustained horrific injuries in a fire, has strong ties to both Millie and Cole that draw her deep into Xas's world. And Lucifer, Xas's dark brother, hovers over everything.

There. That's about all the summary I got in me. Now:

I always have a terrible time reviewing the books that mean the most to me. I have so very many things I want to tell you; so very many scenes I'd like to highlight; so very many passages I'd like to quote. And everything I want to share gets so tangled up in my mind that I don't know where to start or how to end. I could ramble on from now until kingdom come without saying everything I'd like to say about this book.

I feel as though describing THE ANGEL'S CUT would be like explaining the whole world to someone who has never lived in it. There's so much beauty here. So much depth. So many layers and sensations and moments and miracles. The book itself is a small miracle. I know I'm being maudlin and sentimental here, but I truly feel blessed to have read it.

And I'm puttering around, just like I knew I would. Let's start over.

The books that affect me the most invariably remind me of other books and authors I love. For its part, THE ANGEL'S CUT was a little bit Anne Rice and a little bit Guy Gavriel Kay--by which I mean that the prose was beautiful, the emotion was heartfelt, the characters moved me to the core and each scene built upon everything that had come before. (Speaking of which, there are enough references to everything that happened in THE VINTNER'S LUCK that I'd recommend reading that book before you tackle this one. There's a progression.) It's gorgeous, plain and simple. I was forever coming across some perfect passage that I wanted to share with you--but I soon realized that what I wanted most was to quote the entire book. And I can't do that, on account of it's against the law. (Also, it would take me far too long to type it all out.) So I shall, instead, encourage you to buy it and read it yourself.

There's a passage in one of Anne Rice's novels--I think it's INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, but don't quote me on that--where one character says of another that it's as though he rises from a resting state whenever he wants to say something, then sinks back into it once he's done. This entire book is like that. Xas, the central character, is an angel. (Not, I hasten to add, the bodice-ripping kind of angel. There's plenty of sex herein, but it's literary sex. No pulsating members or hot little nether-mouths.) As the novel begins, he's lived in the world for nearly a hundred years, and he's had another four thousand-odd years of observation. For all that, though, he's still on the outside. He has to consider every move he makes, every word that passes his lips, and monitor himself so he can exist alongside the humans he befriends. Knox creates such a powerful bond between the reader and Xas that I constantly felt like I was doing the same, even when he wasn't the POV character. It's gorgeous.

Gods. It all meant so much to me, y'all. I loved the build up; the way each little piece impacted everything else. There are layers and layers of meaning. Even the title has three distinct meanings that I can think of off the top of my head, and I'm sure there are more. There's so much going on, such complexity of thought and deed. I know I'm going to reread this over and over again, and I have no doubt I'll notice new things each and every time.

I feel like I've left so much out. I mean, I haven't even touched on the filmmaking, or Lucifer, or any of that. I don't feel like I've said nearly enough. Yet, at the same time, I know I'll ramble on forever if I don't stop myself here. So let's end things off with a glowing recommendation. I loved this, and cannot recommend it highly enjoy. I want you to read it, too--but please, read THE VINTNER'S LUCK first. I'm sure THE ANGEL'S CUT will still be beautiful without it, but it'll mean so much more if you've got the first book under your belt.

5 stars - loved it to the point of incoherence

Other Reviews:

The Black Sheep
seeing_read
tamaranth's non-ephemera

I couldn't find any others. :( If I missed yours, please let me know so I can link to it.





Back In the Day:
Almost Angel
Comments 
30th-Nov-2012 03:13 am (UTC)
"hot little nether-mouths"

:X
3rd-Dec-2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
That one is specific to Anne Rice, though I've heard mention of "nether mouths" (minus the "hot little" bit) in many a book.
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