A Book Review of A Vision Of Angels- Timothy Jay Smith
Lets go to Jerusalem, one of the few cities that is as old as history itself. Considered holy to the three Abrahamic religions, where angels, messengers and emperors have walked. Where faithful come from all parts of the world, where once Jesus and Prophet Mohammad have walked. Where emperors from both East and West have laid siege and destroyed the city so many times that every corner has a story to tell, each more painful than the last.
We will visit Jerusalem with Timothy Jay Smith, the American author who lived in Jerusalem for a few years and based on those years he penned his heart breaking book “A Vision of Angels”.
“A Vision of Angels” by Timothy Jay Smith is a simple story of day-to-day life of simple people with simple day-to-day activities. Yet the complex web through which their lives are intertwined and impact each other makes one remember the Butterfly flapping its wings in one corner of the world.
The story mostly is in modern-day Jerusalem, which tries to keep up a façade of peace amid tensions between Palestinians, Jews, and Christians. Due to hundreds of years of conflict nobody trusts anybody else but is forced to live and work in close proximity. The Israeli security forces have reached a state of paranoia when they shoot first and ask questions later. Peace is a dirty word and both sides consider anybody looking for peace as a traitor.
We are introduced to a simple Christian Arab Grocer Issa (Jesus is called Issa is Asian cultures), who is married to an Arab Muslim girl and is trying to find peace with his orthodox father in law. He has a very simple aim in life i.e. to provide for his family from his small grocery shop in a busy market in old Jerusalem. We meet Mr. Mousa an Oxford educated aristocratic Arab Farmer who is dependent on the permits received from the Israelis to sell his produce in Jerusalem. The permits are issued by Israeli war hero Major Jacov Levy, who issues permit in exchange of information from Mousa.
Jacov is not only fighting real and imaginary terrorist, but also his own son who thinks peace is the way forward to the utter disbelief of his father. Who thinks peace with enemy is not possible.
The plot unfolds with the simple dreams and aspirations of the characters, who have simple dreams like adding a room to the house, visiting the holy shrines, spend some time talking, wining and dining with friends exchanging stories. Families fight, siblings squabble, wives enjoy the attention given by their husbands after all the years of marriage and love.
Then comes the news of bomb to be detonated on Easter, when hundreds would be demonstrating for peace . Mousa, Issa and David Kessler an American journalist and a reluctant Jew become part of a larger conspiracy with some of them not even knowing that they have been dragged in to one of the oldest conflicts known to humanity.
Early on we are introduced to the raw, brute force of the Israeli Defense forces, whose sole aim is to keep people of Israel safe, no matter what the cost or means.
The beauty of Timothy Jay Smith’s writing is his ability to create simple characters with so much authenticity that you says “this could happen to me”. Therein lies his success as an author and success of “A Vision of Angels” as a novel, you live the life of characters for that one week when the story develops. Tim creates such powerful scenes on the dining table, in the backyard gardens and in the market place that you visit Jerusalem and can smell the citrus blooms, and feel the hot desert air on your face. The few violent scenes make you repulse with horror, but it is the small acts of selfless kindness that makes you wipe your tears. Like a small scene in the story of the crippled painter Efrahim, receiving a birdcage from the guy whose family has received his home as spoils of war.
Read “ A Vision Of Angels” to learn once again that humans everywhere have same emotions and irrespective of our different gods ( really?), we are all same in the end and want to leave peacefully with our simple dreams. In the bargain you get a tour of one of the holiest cities in the world – Jerusalem where angels and messengers of God from 3 of the biggest religions of the world have walked on the same cobbled streets that Timothy Jay Smith takes you on a journey that you will remember for a long time to come. The message is clear nobody wins in a war as all victories are only temporary and the winners are also losers in more ways than one. The average person looses everywhere be it Mousa not able to keep his father’s dreams or maybe betraying his friends or ashamed of implicating innocent people into the plot is unable to live with his guilt. Or Issa and David who are caught in the conflict without even knowing or understanding what happened!
Read “A Vision of Angles’’ to try to understand why peace is what each one of us wants and yet it is so elusive. Read “A Vision of Angles” to learn that in all the violence there still exists small islands praying and working for peace and all the violence, conspiracies and bombs in this world cannot extinguish that little flame of peace. This litle flame from countless candles is slowly working in the middle of night to illuminate not only dark paths and holy cities but also our hearts giving hope for tomorrow, not only to the peace brigade but also to the die-hard soldier like Major Levy who finally prays for peace while still fighting his own war not only with terrorists but with his own son.
Some details about the book
Name: A Vision of Angles
Author: Timothy Jay Smith
Publisher: Owl Canyon Press
Other novel by Timothy Jay Smith: Cooper’s Promise
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