Anyone contemplating New Year’s resolutions and thinking about how they ought to live their life differently should think about reading Gabriel’s Angel by Mark Radcliffe.
Gabriel Bell has been having a bad day. His relationship with his long-term girlfriend Ellie is going from bad to worse, as they constantly bicker, forgetting what brought them together in the first place, under the strain of infertility and IVF. On top of all that he has just lost his job writing for a sports website that has gone bust and is having to lower his standards and sell his soul by going for an interview at a rival site. He is hoping to secure this new job before Ellie finds out he is unemployed and before they start arguing about how they are now going to pay for IVF. So, all in all, not great, but not as bad as what happens next – when he is hit by a car in Shoreditch and wakes up with no idea where he is or why nothing hurts. It turns out Gabriel has landed, along with Julie, the driver who hit him, in a psychology experiment run by angels, that helps decide who ends up in Heaven or Hell. Really not a good day for Gabriel.
In the therapy group he also meets Kevin, a serial killer and Yvonne, the woman Kevin has most recently killed. It’s fair to say that no-one is delighted by their predicament and the angels are also in disagreement about what will work best for this group. Gabriel and Julie bond over being allowed to go and view what is happening as their bodies on earth are still being kept going in intensive care in a London hospital. They look down on those who love them trying to bring them back. Meanwhile, Kevin is doing everything he can to show contrition in the hope of avoiding Hell.
This is such a quirky, well written and refreshing book and I found myself rooting for those I wanted to get a second chance on earth, wanting to tell the angels to stop arguing and sort it out, and being drawn into the stories of those back on earth barrelling towards their own wholly justified destinies.