Alice once dreamed of being an artist, but instead became a hard-working and successful manager at a computer-software company, supervising a group of over-educated writers who have decided, like her, to make money rather than do what they love. Her insistence on keeping her work life rigidly separate from her private life means that her private life barely exists. Lovers are sacrifice; needs are deferred. Her lesbian life, she thought, had a "Brigadoon-like quality, a fantasy world that was really nice to visit, but impossible to live in." Only the world of work was "real." What will happen when Alice's red-haired guardian angel, Phoebe, starts visiting her at work, spinning out tales that beg to be written down, and seducing the strait-laced Alice with thoughts of another world entirely? Elizabeth Brownrigg's first novel is absorbing and well written, a series of stories within stories, reminiscent, at times, of early Jeanette Winterson. --Regina Marler --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
"This is a story about doppelgangers and angels and the difference between heaven and hell," the opening lines of this fantastical first novel proclaim. The real and the imaginary blur when Alice, the closeted lesbian manager at a computer software company, is visited by her guardian angel, Phoebe. Like the land-lubbering Little Mermaid in the Grimms' fairy tale, Phoebe's desire to feel human emotions causes her to become more corporeal each day. Though she's lost her ability to walk through walls, Phoebe's angelic qualities obtain. She inspires the dejected Alice to write and tell stories about non-conformist characters?like Jo-Jo, a black Catholic boy who grows up to be a gay drag performer?whose self-discoveries prompt Alice to acknowledge her own desire for change. The plot grows more eerie when Alice's fictions suddenly turn real. Brownrigg handles her heavy themes?the awakening of desire, love in the face of homophobia and racism?with a light touch, though the unfortunate consequence is that her characters are underdeveloped and unbelievable. It is the casually frank, confessional voice of Alice ("Being out of the closet on the job was just great.... They wouldn't fire you. They'd just forget to promote you") that is this novel's strongest feature.