by Andrew M. Greeley ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 1, 1998
Greeley (Summer at the Lake, 1997, etc. etc.) returns with more High Blarney, this time with an inversion on the Faust legend in which an atheist sells his soul to an angel. While flying into Chicago's O'Hare airport, cynical media mogul Raymond Neenan finds the empty first-class seat beside him invaded by the brown-skinned Archangel Michael, the six-foot-six head of the heavenly armies, who's flourishing a contract for him to sign. Neenan must sell his soul to Michael, he's told, or go down with the plane. To sweeten the deal, the angel also gives him a brief but ecstatic taste of paradise. Neenan thinks he's hallucinating and, with nothing to lose, signs. Foremost in the contract, he has to give up his womanizing, predatory business practices and sharply sharkish bent toward everything consumable. Gradually, though, Neenan becomes convinced that he didn't imagine the event. In unmaking the mess he's made of his life, the once fearsome Neenan turns cuddly with his office staff and son Vincent, romances his wife, Anna Maria (while an angelic choir that only he can hear sings joyously), accepts her advice about filming an eight-hour miniseries of Susan Howatch's Starbridge, and decides to offer Loyola University, her alma mater, $5 million to fund four chairs in the humanities. He must also patch things up with his first wife and with the children by that marriage, who detest him. None of this provides much conflict, although Greeley clearly has a ball as the authorial angel setting miracles in motion. Amusingly, while sitting through a performance of Gounod's Faust (whose chores gets a blissful assist from real choirs of angels), Neenan discovers that--aside from Anna Maria--he's spent his life seeking carbon copies of his punitive, mean-spirited, grudging mother. Will Raymond clear up his life's mess before a death warning is fulfilled and he has to check out the light in the tunnel? Should be read with Palestrina Masses playing in the background.
Pub Date: June 1, 1998
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998
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