The Eye of the Everlasting Angel

Noel Virtue, Author Dufour Editions $28 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0863-2
Set in the swinging London of the 1960s, New Zealand writer Virtue's fifth novel is a small treasure trove of eccentricity and la vie de Boheme . Toby Todd is a teenager with a ``slow smile,'' gypsy ancestors and a taste for helping elderly people. Abandoned by his parents, the 16-year-old Toby lives with his grandmother, who is not only his best friend and protectress but also his guide to the world of spirits and how to survive in the woods. When she dies, Toby sets off for London where he sleeps in doorways and lives by his wits until he builds a new family for himself composed of the wounded and homeless friends he makes along the way: a wealthy widow who holds conversations with the ghost of a Maori girl; her son Antony and Lola (who are the same person); and an elderly lesbian couple. As this plucky innocent makes his way through a grubby world, the plot occasionally seems like third-generation Dickens, but the book never succumbs to cliche and the nutty characters' voices are as sharp and distinctive as they are touching. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 05/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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