Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Fallen Angels by Tara Hyland

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
RRP: $29.99

From the poverty of post-war England and Ireland to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's golden age, a beautiful, sweeping family drama that illustrates that the bonds between a mother and daughter can never be broken.
An unwanted child: San Francisco, 1958. On a dark December night, a baby girl is left at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage on Telegraph Hill. 
A mysterious suicide: One year later, movie star Frances Fitzgerald takes her own life. Her husband, wealthy businessman Maximilian Stanhope, is rumoured to know more about her death than he's letting on, but nothing is ever proved. 
A terrible secret: What is the connection between these two events? That's what Frances's daughter, Cara, wants to find out. Abandoned by her mother when she is just seven years old, her childhood is filled with hardship and loss. As a young woman she finds professional success as a journalist, but on a personal level, she still struggles to trust those around her. Soon Cara becomes convinced that uncovering the secret behind her mother's death is the only way to lay her demons to rest, but learning the truth may end up tearing her apart.

This book was recommended for fans of Kate Morton. While I don't think the book quite met that bench mark it was an enjoyable read with beautiful descriptions.

One thing that was good about 'Fallen Angels' was that it didn't switch between eras too often. In some books where they tend to switch between timeframes the reader can often get lost and confused somewhere in between the pages. So I found this book was pretty easy to keep up with because of that.

The descriptions were pretty fabulous because they made me feel like I was in that time period in that room soaking up the atmosphere. It was almost artistic the way that the words were so accurate that they painted a picture before my eyes.

The characters in the novel were great in a way that they could be positioned. Hyland described the characters enough for us to know them, but still left them open for interpretation so that when positioned in a different light they could still be believable. This is definitely a great thing in a historical fiction novel.

The one thing I didn't appreciate was that the section of Cara's life in the sixties felt so disjointed from the rest of the novel in terms of how it was written. The writing became more raunchy and casual at this point in the book - so much so that It didn't feel like it was written by the same author. I don't think I enjoyed this part of the book as much because it didn't feel as authentic as the other chapters.

The story line of this novel was wonderful, because it incorporated so many different ideas. It was a romance, a tragedy and a historical mystery rolled into one. Which is great considering that most people struggle with writing a story about just one of these things.

Overall, I think the story was a great one. It didn't quite reach the likes of 'The Distant Hours', but wasn't far behind. The thing that ruined it for me was that one section with all the slang. I think it just took the magic out of it for me. I gave this novel 4.5/5 stars and definitely can't wait to read more by this author.

'Daughters of Fortune' by Tara Hyland

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