Ailbe is under the oppressive thumb of a deeply religious mother. Everything that she does, and does not do, is because of God’s will. The worst thing Ailbe could ever do in her mother’s eyes is fall from grace – whatever that means. Touched by Angels by Florianne Humphrey makes a strong statement about they hypocrisy and hatred with which religion has treated non-conformers. Ailbe is a young teenager on the brink of womanhood, who is just beginning to question what it means to be touched by angels, and the consequences of finding her own way.
I had a visceral reaction to Ailbe’s mother and the fact that all of her actions are justified in the eyes of God. Even thinking about it in order to write this review, I find I’m uncomfortable. Being able to draw out this kind of response is the essence of good story telling!
But it doesn’t stop there. The first half of the story is told by a 13-ish year old Ailbe. The writing reflects that, as it reads as if it were written by someone just discovering the power of writing. At first I was a little off-put. But then I read the second half and the brilliance of Florianne’s writing becomes clear. In the second half, Ailbe is about 25, and the narrative is written as such. Not only do we get the perspectives of a younger Ailbe and then a more mature Ailbe, but the evolution, the growth appears all the way down into the writing style. Reading a story that is so immersive is truly a delight!
I did have to adjust my understanding of some of the language here. Being accustomed to American English and all it’s slang, switching to British English and it’s unique slang takes a minute to get used to, at least for me. But once you’re in, the story is wonderful.
Official Kristine’s BRF Rating:
Photo courtesy of Samuel Zeller via Unsplash.