Sunday, April 24, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Archangel by Andrea Barrett

Historical fiction and short stories don’t generally go together in my mind. When I think of historical fiction, I think of detailed world-building, big-event settings, and large casts of characters. However, Andrea Barrett’s Archangel surprised me. In her collection of interconnected short stories set in the early 1900s, Barrett is able to create intense, poignant vignettes featuring several characters whose lives are caught up with the new discoveries being made in science and natural history. They deal with difficult life situations while grappling with new understandings that displace the comfort of the familiar. Scientific theories permeate their lives and they draw connections between scientific endeavors (engineering, astronomy, biology, genetics, and medicine) and their own life experiences.

The reader is firmly drawn into the time and place of each short story. The details bring the world to life. The writing is beautiful. And the characters are sympathetic and realistic.

I loved the book and will have to look for more of Barrett’s work.

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