Book Review – ANGEL by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

Angel by Arnold Jansen op de Haar bigAngel Synopsis:

Angel, a new novel by the author of King of Tuzla and Yugoslav Requiem.

Many people have plenty of reasons to run away but very few actually do it.

Tijmen Klein Gildekamp is a jobbing writer living in a small provincial town. His world is lonely and stifling.

We find out why his father’s war is still important to his life today and how the world has changed. Tijmen has moved away from his roots, but not far enough, so he feels trapped.

When all seems lost, Angel comes to the rescue, but is she too late? They make an interesting pair: she the masseuse by day and singer by night, and he the committed writer of literature.

A surprise lottery win enables them to escape their dreary and oppressive everyday existence. During their flight they experience a number of momentous incidents in Spain and London, ending up on a remote Scottish Island.

Tijmen believes that, at the end of our life, what remains of us is love, but is he right?

Angel is a novel about expectations, failures and the fragility of our existence. (Amazon)

Translated from the original Dutch by Bernadette Jansen op de Haar


Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s intriguing novel Angel is a title I find difficult to categorise.  The central theme is a reflective and  introspective one – the question of one’s identity and life purpose. To what extent should one shoulder the burden of actions in their past, or even by forebears? This theme is then explored from a range of different perspectives, as several narrators with different linkages to the protagonist are introduced and their stories unfold.

Frequently alternating narratives spanning history and current day, interspersed with poetic elements and pop culture references, create a rich and moving tapestry of life that is hard to look away from (at times, ‘like a car accident’). Anything can, and often does, happen in the life of Tijmen, from bouts of depression and self-doubt through to romance and action-thriller sequences tinged with wry humour. While I found this complexity beguiling, there were times I lost my bearings.

Although he was almost certain that all surpluses had found a home in him, his mother considered him to be ‘a stroke of luck’.

The prose in Angel exhibits a raw, unadulterated quality which I found compelling and on occasion quite profound. There were however a few instances when the artistic/conceptual flow felt interrupted by some phrasing that jarred, but that could potentially be attributed to the translation.


Angel by Arnold Jansen op de Haar is not necessarily an easy read but for those willing to invest the time it is a rewarding journey of thought.

* It is worth noting that I have some knowledge of the Dutch history and region featured within this novel which may have enhanced my engagement with this title.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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BOOK DETAILS: Angel by Arnold Jansen op de Haar ( Holland Park Press | Amazon  )

Genre: Translation, Drama, Literature

Author Information: Find out more about author Arnold Jansen op de Haar.

Other reviews of Angel : Life Between Pages

* My receiving an ebook copy of this title from Holland Park Press for review purposes in no way hindered the expression of my honest opinions in the above.