Two thumbs up for The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Historical fantasy.
I think this was marketed as literary fiction, but it has a literal angel in it—so. This exquisitely-written novel spans the adult life of a French vintner, Sobran, starting in 1808, when he accidentally meets an angel, Xas. They strike up a friendship—Xas visits Sobran one night a year. Xas is a Miltonian-style angel, which is to say, he is complicated. Although it is a short book, only 281 pages, because each chapter covers one year, it is full of passion and event: murder, sex, wine, war, food, insanity, gore, family, crises of faith, cosmology, changing times, love, and above all, friendship. At a certain point I wondered how the author could possibly develop the story, and she kept pulling things out of her hat. A work of genius. I read it in one sitting and am tempted to re-read it again immediately—maybe this time with a bottle of wine.
There was a creak, like the rigging on a ship, a variable whistling, and the angel dropped down beside him, breathing hard. Sobran sat up and they grinned at each other. The angel’s hair was stiff with frost, and sheets of watery ice were sliding off his steaming wings. He brushed at them with one hand, dripped, panted, laughed, explained that he’d been flying high, and then handed Sobran a square, dark glass bottle. Xynisteri, he said, a white wine from Cyprus. Sobran should drink it with his wife. Then he added soberly, “I’m confident that you have a wife.”
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