Sunday, January 8, 2012

Moving forward while looking back. "Angel" by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

              After winning the lottery, Tijmen Klein Gildekamp has a normal reaction. He takes off. Tijem and his girlfriend, a masseuse named Angel, run from everyday life or is it from their past?
Readers who identified with Tijmen in Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s King of Tuzla will enjoy catching up with him, but Angel does not feel like a sequel. In fact, an underlying theme is that Tijmen seems to be wrestling with his identity, but he starts by recognizing that he is focusing on a post-Bosnia Tijmen. Still, he and Angel both look to their families past to discover connections in the Dutch underground, and in Angel’s case, with German collaborators. Together they reach a point of recognition, an understanding, perhaps even an enlightened view that who they are in the here and now is what matters most. It is clear they could succeed in finding happiness, if only the       rest of the world, perplexed editors and former boyfriends, would leave them alone.
Jansen op de Haar continues to demonstrate a rare talent of writing succinctly, yet with impact. His chapters are short, but they draw the reader in and keep one moving through the story. The most refreshing aspect of Angel is that like Tijmen, one can sense they are reading Jansen op de Haar again, his voice is recognizable, but Angel does not feel like the same formula revisited, as is sometimes common among authors today. Angel makes a nice edition for those who enjoy books of romance, adventure, and self-reflection.

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