Friday, January 8, 2010

Th Bishop's Wife

Finished The Bishop's Wife by Robert Nathan. It's a small book, written in the 1920s. There is something distant and whispery about it. For those who are familiar with the film version, the book is somewhat different. A bishop wishes to build a new cathedral but is having difficulty raising the necessary funds. Michael arrives to assist the bishop with this task. Michael is an angel. He is very open about being an angel, except with the bishop's wife Julia. Neither Michael nor the bishop actually tell her. Julia often misinterprets the meaning of what Michael says because of her ignorance. The book focuses on Michael and his struggle with obligation vs his love for Julia. While in the film version all the fun has gone out of Julia and Henry's marriage, the book is frank about the fact that there was little of that to begin with. Henry seems almost asexual, especially compared to Michael who has a very passionate nature. The book is quiet and rather sad. Nathan also wrote Portrait of Jennie which was made into a strange and beautiful film. If you have not seen the film I highly recommend it.

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