The Guardian Angel

Written by Elizabeth Gill
Review by Clare Lehovsky

Set amidst a background of idyllic northern countryside, themes such as love, forgiveness and hatred are being explored in Elizabeth Gill’s The Guardian Angel, the first book of the Weardale saga. Miss Alice Lee, a spinster confectioner, finds herself writing letters to a man sentenced to nine years in jail due to murder and, because of his homecoming, a series of events mark out the rest of her life. Setting her book in a tiny quarry village on the outskirts of Durham, Gill blends an atmosphere of confectionary and malice, social groupings and poverty in a powerful way. It was interesting to learn about the process of sweet-making in the 1800s as well as the workings of a small village that depends on its quarry. Throughout the novel prejudice and social norms are emphasised to create an impact about Christian values such as forgiveness and loving those who have sinned. Similarly, the process of introducing a prison inmate to a normal community is compelling, as most of the village are against the man returning to his home. The Durham countryside is a perfect backdrop to those ambitious villagers who are anxious to leave and make their reputations outside a closed village where everyone and their pasts are known.