Lorna Byrne is what many people would call a modern day mystic. She claims that she can see and talk to angels, spirits, and on a few occasions, God. She waited years before writing her book, not wishing for any publicity or fame and only decided to write when instructed to by her angels. The price of promoting angelic presence has come at a cost, she’s no longer able to meet those who want her help.
Publisher: Arrow Books (Random House)
First Published: 2008
Date Reviewed: 31st August 2009
Angels In My Hair has received most of it’s coverage in print and through television interviews (the usual ones where the presenters subtly interrogate their guest), little has been done to promote the book in the shops themselves. Its little publicity matches Byrne’s wishes for her not to be fawned over as she has said herself that she’s simply a person, a normal human who just happens to see angels.
The book is autobiographical with the focus being on Byrne’s first-hand experiences of angels. Everything she mentions is related back to them or what they have taught her and is evaluated against what religion teaches us. Beginning with a few experiences as a baby and ending just after the death of her husband, Byrne concludes with the statement that we are all angels. Byrne has been seeing angels since she was a baby and says that everyone can see angels at that age, it’s just that as we get older we are told that what we see isn’t real, much like the idea that babies don’t drown so easily as after they’ve been taught to be afraid of deep water.
Something evident within the first few pages is that Byrne isn’t a gifted storyteller, her sentence structure isn’t the best and she isn’t at all eloquent – but whether or not you’ll find this distracting depends on your outlook. If you’re reading the book with the aim of criticising and dismissing the possibility of angels then you’ll most likely be taking the book back to the shop. If you’re open-minded or share Byrne’s belief in angels then you’re more likely to see Byrne’s inability as something that gives further evidence of their existence. If you think about other books of the same genre and the multitude of self-help publications one thing that binds them all is the idea that they’ve all been edited to perfection. The fact that Byrne’s book isn’t promotes the thought that, as she says, she doesn’t want money, she simply wants the message out there. Her book is written in her own words and her lack of education is prominent throughout.
Difficult to comprehend is Byrne’s seeming lack of religious information. It’s not until the end of the book that she learns that the angel Michael is Archangel Michael and nor does she seem to understand many of the aspects she talks about that the average reader, assuming they know at least a little about religion, will acknowledge instantly. That Byrne also states she has no interest in politics is very off-putting as one would hope that someone such as herself would keep up to date with the news. Therein must lie proof of her statement that she is just an ordinary person and that it’s only because of other’s lack of faith that she needs to bring the message of God to the world.
What does become a real problem is the overall structure of the book. It reads how no book should, in a way that is easiest described as “and then… and then… and then…” Practically every paragraph holds the story of another angelic event so that no matter how miraculous the stories the reader can feel bogged down and the events become not only muddled but sadly boring. Byrne makes use of the same introductions and although her repetition of certain moral concepts is admirable (you can see that she means to introduce and then back up her claims) it generally means that her conclusions are underwhelming. The ending of the book is lovely but the last sentence sites the start of a conclusion that needed to be further explained whether through reiteration or a new concept.
Naturally Angels In My Hair will appeal to the believers who’ll find in it more reason to keep hold of their faith. It is unlikely to appeal to others however will be suitable for someone after the information for general interest purposes. The most negative point is sadly the real-life spin off: Byrne will now be at the hands of her agents and unable to carry on her task away from the spotlight.