The Guardian Angel’s Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

This book tells the story of Margot Delacroix who, after dying at the age of 42, is sent back to earth to become the guardian angel of herself.  Margot is renamed Ruth and as guardian angel her remit has four themes: to witness Margot’s life, to record it, to protect Margot from any potential threats and, most importantly (I think) to love Margot and offer her comfort and support

There is so much that I want to say about this book that this is perhaps going to be the least coherent review in the history of reviews!

Firstly, I thought this was a great read and a really original and interesting concept.  That being said, I will point out that the start of the book is not easy to read in that the experiences that Margot suffers as a young child are very harrowing.  However, these chapters are key to giving the reader an understanding of the influences that lead Margot’s future direction and personality.  Also, the author is telling Margot’s life and this is part of that story, I suppose she could have simply written a few sentences to skip over the first formative years to infom us that ‘Margot’s life was unbearable and she had a very unhappy childhood until she finally escaped, etc, etc’ but would this really have given the reader the same degree of sympathy towards Margot.  To be honest, Margot was not always the nicest person, in fact as guardian angel to herself she often felt regret and shame when witnessing some of her own choices – yet, I think as a reader you are perhaps prepared to be a little more forgiving because you know about the kind of childhood she had.  Also, I will say that although these first few chapters bear witness to a very unhappy period for Margot I don’t think they’re over egged or gratuitous.

Secondly, I liked the way the relationship between Margot and Ruth almost felt like daughter/mother.  Ruth, after helping to deliver Margot into the world, develops a strong maternal bond.  I thought it was really interesting to hear Ruth’s thoughts as she watches events from her own life unfold – but this time with a more complete view of what is actually happening.  I also felt for Ruth, she started with the most basic explanation of what she could and couldn’t do as a guardian angel and spent the remainder of the book coming to terms with her abilities.   Throughout, she tries to make plans to change the course of Margot’s life for the better but all her attempts are thwarted and Margot continues down her already trodden path. It must be really awful to be a witness to all your own ill-judged decisions and equally awful and frustrating to be unable to make little tweaks here and there to make them work out better.  Eventually Ruth chooses an ill advised route herself which will have consequences she cannot foresee.

I think that CJ-C has managed to create a really clear picture of a world populated with guardian angels – and evil demons.  The concept has been really well thought out and written really well.   It actually makes you take stock for a moment of some of your own decisions!

Now, I did really like this book, but I do have one query, not really a criticism but just something that puzzles me.  Obviously, we’re into the whole time travel thing where you start thinking about things and end up going round in circles (did the chicken come first or the egg??)  (A bit like the Terminator films – the Terminator was sent back through time to kill John Connor so he couldn’t lead a resistance against the machines that had taken over the world.  And yet, if the terminator hadn’t been sent back in time and ultimately been stopped from accomplishing his goal then the knowledge to build such advanced and complex machines would never have existed!! So, conundrum).  By the same token, Ruth is sent back to protect Margot – but surely Margot has already lived this life and Ruth wasn’t there to protect her the first time, she had to die before she could go back – or, is it that once Ruth is sent back then she is in a loop already and has therefore always been there protecting herself (OMG I said this was going to be incoherent didn’t I?)  Also, I didn’t totally love the ending – I think in my own foolish or over romantic way I was hoping for something different – but thinking about it afterwards that was never a very realistic hope and in fact would have been ridiculous (so I’ve talked myself out of that…)

Anyway, I thought this book was really good and I would recommend it (not sure about the cover – not saying it’s no good but unclear the little girl in the picture has dark hair when Margot was clearly blond – just saying!!).

Rating A

The Guardian Angel's Journal

The Guardian Angel's Journal

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