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In the Company of Angels: A Novel

By N. M. Kelby

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ISBN 10: 0786885831
192 pages

It is World War II, a small village in France near the border of Belgium. Marie Claire is a young French Jew, cared for by her grandmother, who cultivates flowers. A shattering of glass, and Marie Claire’s village is in rubble. Her grandmother is dead — everyone is dead. She flees to the root cellar of her grandmother’s house and waits . . .

She is saved by two Belgian nuns who take Marie Claire away to their convent in Tournai, Belgium, where they have been hiding Jews for transport to Switzerland. It is then that the miracles begin. Is Marie Claire causing them? The answer to that question remains mysterious until the last pages of this entirely original debut. In a town scented with chocolate, haunted by memories of the past and the desperation of the present, the miraculous is sometimes hard to recognize. A suspenseful novel of enormous power and sensitivity, In the Company of Angels introduces a distinctly imaginative new voice in fiction.


“N.M. Kelby, in her first time out, shows what it means to take risks as a novelist . . . She has created a brave and beautiful book.” —The Baltimore Sun

“Kelby’s lovely language fuses sensuous specificity with metaphoric resonance . . . To read Kelby’s novel is, in its own words, to “fall into a dream, a flying dream.” And to paraphrase and summarize such fine spun fiction must inevitably be as inadequate as any attempt to retell your most amazing dream the morning after.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Kelby weaves in and out of several character’s heads, seamlessly melding fantasy and reality to create a seductive hallucinatory effect.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Kelby’s slim, grim fairy tale exerts a subtle pull . . . the author suddenly stares unblinkingly into one corner of the heart of darkness.” —Entertainment Weekly

“[An] impressive debut . . . Kelby . . . displays a rarefied sense of craft throughout this meticulously constructed novel.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A luminous, harrowing tale of wartime horrors and miracles . . . Kelby’s  spare, elliptical prose effectively brings these moments to light, infusing the emotionally and spiritually loaded subject matter with an  uncommon intimacy . . . Kelby rises to the challenge with considerable command in a haunting debut that erodes the  distinctions between waking and dreaming, faith and reason, life and death.” —PW, starred review

“Kelby makes her novel debut with a religious fable that will move some greatly . . . a skillful harvest of symbols.” —Kirkus

“Delicate and operatic, In the Company of Angels reminds me of no one so much as Michael Ondaatje. As N. M. Kelby’s people navigate the conflicting obligations of faith, love, and war — as one character says — ‘Anything divine is entirely possible.'” –Stewart O’Nan, author of A World Away and A Prayer for the Dying

“N. M. Kelby has woven a lush tapestry of innocence and evil on a sturdy loom of miracles, capturing in swift strokes the horror of the Holocaust and the cleansing restorative nature of simple devotion.” –Faith Sullivan, author of What a Woman Must Do


Before the Germans bombed Belgium in 1940, Tournai was a city that creaked under the weight of its own rich history. Conquered by the French, it was thought more beautiful than Paris. Conquered by the English, it was the favored city of King Henry the Eig

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In the Company of Angels: A Novel