The Wave Theory of Angels

The Wave Theory of Angels (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin 2005) was a Globe and Mail ‘Book of the Summer’ and was nominated for The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. 

The Wave Theory of Angels

The Wave Theory of Angels is a bold and beautiful dismantling of the linearity and fixedness of time and space… [Its characters] live and breathe and, most important, desire, in rich period detail. … [MacLeod] has achieved an enchanting, playful and, at times, dark probing of the limits of our knowledge. It’s a novel that leaves us wondering if we will not forever continue to uncover further ranks of angels, other dimensions of time and space. Will desire, excess and wildness forever thwart containment? And is there not something intrinsically thrilling in the elusiveness of mystery and miracle?’  THE GLOBE AND MAIL

‘MacLeod’s novel ingeniously combines medieval theology with 21st-century physics. Her plot… set in Beauvais in 1284, concerns Giles, a woodcarver, whose work adorns the new cathedral. Giles’s beautiful elder daughter, Christina, falls into a death-like trance from which neither he, nor his younger daughter, Marguerite, can wake her. Moving forward eight centuries to 2001, the story is that of Giles Carver, a physicist specialising in wave theory at a research centre in Chicago. His daughter Christina is also in a coma … Parallels are drawn between the medieval and modern worlds, and even the religious fanaticism of the former is echoed in the American episodes. A cathedral tower falls in one story, the twin towers in the other, without seeming glib or contrived…’ THE TIMES

 ‘…a daring investigation of medieval philosophy, modern-day physics, and the relation of both to faith and desire…  [MacLeod] has an engaged delight in the stuff of life…’   TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

‘This novel defies bland categorisation: although it explores realms where science and dreams meet, it transcends both SF and fantasy. Its journey in time moves the reader between medieval Beauvais and a research centre in modern Chicago. Macleod’s is a powerful tale about various kinds of love and desire. It is part-thriller, part-philosophical speculation, part-exploration of postmodern physics, and is quite beautifully written, combining play with poetry and with moments of deep emotion and powerful realism.’ THE GUARDIAN, ‘1000 Novels Everyone Must Read – the ones that Got Away’

 ‘The Wave Theory of Angels is utterly delightful, beautifully written… ‘  ALBERTO MANGUEL

‘Part thriller, part philosophical treatise, The Wave Theory of Angels explores… intriguing ideas… There’s more than a hint here of Umberto Eco’s ambition…’   TIME OUT

‘The Wave Theory of Angels – with its pervasive belief in the essential sameness of science and religion – is a compelling story that manages a subtle delivery… The tale is gripping, the transitions are flawless and the characters are well-drawn. MacLeod takes a risk with this novel and succeeds.’   THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

‘In Alison MacLeod’s The Wave Theory of Angels, the stories of two families, seemingly separated by centuries are woven together in a provocative exploration of human relationships, high energy physics, and the power of the imagination…  Either story is compelling on its own: braided together, they make a complex, fascinating narrative.’    QUILL & QUIRE