Archangel by Andrea Barrett
Fiction

72%

5 Critic Reviews

In the title piece, the final one in the collection, Constantine, that young Detroiter from the first tale, shows up as a wounded soldier in the midst of the winter of 1919 in civil-war torn Russia...this final story achieves a fusion of life and wonder which the other pieces strove to reach but never seemed to grasp.
-NPR

Synopsis

"[Andrea Barrett's] work stands out for its sheer intelligence…The overall effect is quietly dazzling."—New York Times Book Review


Winner of the National Book Award for her collection of stories Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett has become one of our most admired and beloved writers. In this magnificent new book, she unfolds five pivotal moments in the lives of her characters and in the history of knowledge.

During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation—from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war.


In these brilliant fictions rich with fact, Barrett explores the thrill and sense of loss that come with scientific progress and the personal passions and impersonal politics that shape all human knowledge.

 

About Andrea Barrett

See more books from this Author
Andrea Barrett is the author of The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever (winner of the National Book Award), and other books. She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts.
 
Published August 19, 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company. 257 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Archangel
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jess Row on Sep 27 2013

It’s pointless to repeat modernism’s experiments — what’s the point, in science or art, of reinventing the wheel? — but it’s just as disingenuous to write as if Joyce, or any of the other great visionaries and oracles of 20th-century literature, never existed.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Sep 02 2013

The best of the five stories in “Archangel” recall the power and mystery of Ms. Barrett’s “Ship Fever,” another collection of exceptional delicacy and grace. Together, these five stories form a cycle, one that begins in 1908 with “The Investigators,” centering on the viewpoint of a 12-year-old boy, Constantine Boyd...

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jun 17 2013

...there is indeed a sense of expansion as one travels onward in Barrett’s world, and pleasure in watching it fill out.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Aug 26 2013

In the title piece, the final one in the collection, Constantine, that young Detroiter from the first tale, shows up as a wounded soldier in the midst of the winter of 1919 in civil-war torn Russia...this final story achieves a fusion of life and wonder which the other pieces strove to reach but never seemed to grasp.

Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from NPR

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Sep 06 2013

Andrea Barrett’s elegant new story collection, Archangel, feels like a dispatch from the moving front of scientific discovery. It spans the wake of Darwin’s theory to the aftermath of Einstein’s discovery of relativity.

Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Archangel
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 36 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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