Title: "Dancing at Angel Abbey"
Author: Lauren M. Bloom
This whimsical novel takes place in Angel Falls, a small town in upstate New York, about halfway between Manhattan and Albany. This is the childhood home of Kate Cunningham, a successful attorney at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan.
She is called home when her ailing father, harsh and demanding but never pleased, is near death. She misplaces her briefcase containing confidential papers en route, thus receives the ire of her equally demanding boss. Cunningham loses her job and her father on the same day. He has disinherited her, leaving nothing of his fortune to her other than the old house.
With only her elderly Siamese cat, no money and a ruined career, Cunningham is forced to stay in Angel Falls with caretakers who practically raised her.
She has been, unknowingly to her, the protegee of the great Archangel Gabriel who seeks to guide her into the path he has chosen. Many of the other angels think this is in poor taste since there are more than 7 billion people worldwide who also need attention. However, the great Archangel Michael has given his limited approval; plus, there is the built-in factor of free will inherent in all that Gabriel must allow.
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Shortly thereafter, Cunningham is invited to Angel Abby, an enormous old farmhouse named for the impressive brass St. Gabriel weathervane on top of the barn. Cunningham learns — from the director "Lady" Lucina des Anges who lives there — that the abby houses soup kitchens and charitable services with staff busy in different offices.
Cunningham uses the ensuing months to discover her true self other — different from the image she had created to please her father and those in the corporate world. Real angels behind the scenes correct and guide her in subtle and often humorous ways. In Bloom's novel, there are a myriad of angel department heads under the leadership of Archangels Michael and Gabriel the messenger.
Metatron is the chief administrator, and Saldalphon is in charge of music. Raphael helps medical people in matters of life and death, while Chamuel helps in the building and sustaining of relationships. Raziel the scribe and Uriel, Azrael, Barachiel, Jophiel and others each have something to say at the end of each chapter. They are not formidable characters pointing a finger to do God's bidding; rather Bloom's angels are humorous while serious, fanciful yet somehow reverently inspiring. They may appear as inconsequential people that Cunningham may encounter.
Bit by bit, Cunningham leaves behind the false persona of her past, learns angels are real and miracles can happen as she becomes the person she was intended to be. The novel is a mixture of humor and seriousness, fanciful yet somehow almost reverent. It takes some twists and turns with a surprise ending.
Bloom is an attorney, interfaith minister and award-winning author who lives in Edgewater, Md.
Virginia Luger lives in Bismarck.