Lorna Byrne,
Angels in My Hair
(Doubleday, 2009)

Lorna Byrne sees angels. If she is to be believed, we are all surrounded by angels all of the time, day and night, inside and outside, wherever we are and whatever we're doing.

Byrne is Irish and serves as a healer and a psychic in Dublin, and this book is her autobiography. A huge bestseller in her native land, it is now landing in America.

Incorrectly declared retarded by a doctor when she was 2, Byrne -- because she pretty much lived in her own world, one populated by angels -- was widely regarded as being not too bright. Her parents bought into the story of her inability to function at a high level cognitively and pulled her out of school when she was 14, putting her to work in her father's garage. Readers follow along as she grows up poor, creates a life for herself and marries a man destined to be live a life of illness, so that she is never financially secure. All of the time, though, she serves her angels.

The world of angels -- which, in an earlier time in Ireland, would probably be described as the world of little people or leprechauns -- is described in detail, giving us a view of the whole hierarchy of the other world. It's a comforting view and occasionally dramatic, as in the scenes where Byrne's angels protect her from the violence that swept through Ireland in the 1990s. Mostly, though, it comes across as mundane, everyday, nothing out of the ordinary.

Perhaps this is because so much of the book centers on Byrne's day-to-day domestic life. When she becomes engaged to Joe, the man who becomes her husband, the act of acquiring an engagement ring takes up a half-dozen pages. Byrne's book is relentlessly everyday and concentration on mundane details takes away from the power of her central message.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

23 May 2009

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