Angels Weep

Smith, Wilbur. The Angels Weep. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1982.

We begin The Angels Weep in the year 1895. Right away we join Zouga Ballantyne and his son, Ralph as they search for treasure (what else is new?). The other same old-same old themes are sex, violence and prejudice all leading to another war. The characters are older (Ralph now has a son, Jonathan or Jon-Jon), but their ambitions and attitudes are the same. Even Robyn Ballantyne is the same. She is so desperate to understand malaria that she stops taking quinine pills and infects herself with the virus in order to further her research. As with Falcon Flies and Men of Men, whites are still mistreating blacks and the power struggles continue. It is on this struggle that Smith centers his conflict. He masterfully shows both sides and when one side betrays the other you find yourself asking, “how could they?!” while your rational side is asking, “how could they NOT?!” Friend betrays friend. Years of companionship are wiped away in a single gunshot. Part II of the book takes us 80 years into the future when we meet Ralph’s great grandson and other heirs. Craig Mellow becomes a prominent figure in the end. There is a nice little twist that made me think the series should have ended here. It brings everything full circle.

Line I liked, “There could never be love where there had been blood” (p 98).

Reason read: This is the penultimate book in the Ballantyne series I started in January in honor of Rhodesia’s Shangani Day.

Book trivia: It isn’t necessary to read the other Ballantyne books (Falcon Flies and Men of Men) in order to pick up The Angels Weep, but it helps. Smith does a great job filling in from book to book, but to get the big picture you need to read the series in order.

Author fact: According to the back flap of The Angels Weep Smith took a sabbatical year with his wife and traveled all over the place.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called, “Zipping Through Zimbabwe/Roaming Rhodesia” (p 269).

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