Reviewed by Tony Harrington
In Jane Cranmer’s debut novel “Ancestors & Angels“she reveals through whimsical tales and spine-tingling recollections what psychics and mediums have known all along: Death is not the end, it is simply the beginning.
What separates Cranmer from every other psychic and medium who has uttered these words is the flair for storytelling and the passion for the written word. Reading “Ancestors and Angels” is the equivalent of sitting down with a wisened individual who has experienced many fantastic and phantasmagorical things in their life and they hold your attention as the tales pour from them as smooth as vermouth.
“Ancestors and Angels” covers Cranmer’s journey to the person she is today, from the early days of her family tree as the descendant of gypsies to the thoroughly modern woman she has become as a result of those who had come before her. Each vignette builds upon the last as it slowly forms a rich and layered tapestry culminating in the realization that life overflows with family, faith, and above all, love.
The tales that make up “Ancestors and Angels” are often heart-warming, at times downright scary, always intriguing, and best read with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Cranmer knows that skeptical readers will most likely scoff at some of the personal experiences she describes but her writing style is so endearing that even the most jaded readers won’t judge too harshly.
The best parts of the book deal with the historical background of Cranmer’s bloodline and reveals fascinating histories of the colorful family members that dot her family tree. We learn of the rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-middle class roller coaster that forged an indomitable spirit that carried across generations and bridged life with the hereafter. We learn that through the hardships and strife there is also love and a strong sense of family that ultimately leads to the author arriving in the world and when that happens the stories become more poignant and the sense of storytelling shifts as hand-me-down folklore and legend become fact-based as a result of the authors first-hand experiences.
“Ancestors and Angels” is a fascinating read filled with hope, awe, wonder, and even a little bit of magic. The overall affirming message does not come across treacly or overbearing, it sort of lingers ethereally over the prose like the spirits of long-lost loved ones and angels watching over us.
In the end, Jane Cranmer has crafted a message of hope, that death does not mean good-bye. Death simply means “see you later” or sometimes, if you are open to receiving the messages of the spirits around us, it could mean “see you soon”.