I bought this book at the Sydney Book Fair after having a read a review of its sequal in the Sydney Morning Herald. I thought that it sounded different to most books; dark and medieval, and that is how it was.
It follows the story of Sobran Jordeau, a vintner in early 19th Century France. One night in 1808, Sobran meets an angel, and there begins a relationship that spans for years, until the end of Sobran's life. Each year they meet each other on the anniversary of their first meeting, until that one yealy meeting is no longer enough for either of them. In the meantime, Sobran's life continues, we see him marry, survive the Napoleonic wars, have a family, take lovers and improve his vintages. His feelings for the angel invade every aspect of his life.
The story is dark and violent at time. There is a sexual undercurrent throughout the book, unerlying Sobran's relationship with his wife, lover and also the angel himself. It is also there in the story of the countryside girls who are brutally raped and murdered at the hands of someone in their community. The story has a complex and rich storyline, full of secrets and desires.
At the beginning of the book I wasn't sure that I really liked Sobran Jordeau. He was so young and selfish and reckless. There were times in fact where I wondered if he wasnt a bit dangerous. As he aged and matured, however, I came to understand him better; I believe that I had a better understanding of his motivations and desires. Xas, the angel, was a lot harder to come to know, but I think that given he is an angel the reader perhaps isn't supposed to fully understand him. He is a creature of God (the devil?) and therefore to some extent above understanding.
I won't spoil the story too much with this review, in fact, reading over I dont think I've really given anything significant away at all. I really want people to read this, especially if you're looking for something different to read. I would be really interested to know what someone religious thought of the concept in this book, particularly relating to Xas and his decscriptions of heaven and hell.
In looking for the picture to use for this post, I discovered that this book has been made into a movie that is being released in November 2009, and I am so excited about seeing it!