I have a special box under my desk. It is an unstained, untreated carved camphor box, crafted by a friend and neighbour who died a few years back, and inside is a confused collection of notebooks and manuscripts that I’ve written over the years.
When the opportunity came up to self-publish, I chose Hillary’s Angel because I believe it’s the best thing I’ve written. I put a lot of energy into the research at the time (about 15 years ago), and last year, when a publisher offered me what seemed like a good deal, it was more-or-less ready to go (no minor consideration).
This can’t be a sales pitch, because I’m going to give away the ending before you even begin to begin. That’s because I don’t want you to buy my book for the wrong reasons. You probably won’t enjoy Hillary’s Angel unless, like me, you “take life too seriously”.
Hillary is hoping to be rescued. She is looking for an angel. The irony is that the angel is there, waiting, ready to be discovered the whole time.
Hillary always misses the point. She doesn’t quite get it. Until, perhaps, the very end – although even that’s not conclusive.
Hillary’s angel is not a husband or lover, a child, a friend, a priest, a pet, or a project (like a career, a mission, a book or even a blog). Her angel, like ours, is that something that still speaks to us even when we are cut off from family and friends; when we have been abandoned or rejected by church and creed, society and its institutions. Our angel is what keeps us humane in the very best sense. It gives meaning to our lives in the worst possible circumstances and keeps us keeping on. Happiness? Yes, let me stick my neck out, happiness. It’s there if we look for it, despite everything – pollution, bad politics, poverty, sickness, brutality – that beautiful, indestructible thing, the human spirit. But we need to acknowledge it in ourselves before we can recognise it in each other.
The best of us are not the winners of the rat race. The best of us are those people who don’t come out of concentration camps.
Instead of reading my book, which is a fluffy romance by comparison, you could try (if you haven’t already read it) Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.
If you’re wondering – Why a picture of a mare and foal? Well … because life goes on, and what more beautiful proof than this.