While Angel of Thanksgiving, the third in Henry Ripplinger’s proposed five-part Angelic Letters Series, still revolves around the separation of star-crossed lovers Henry and Jenny and their doomed romance, unlike the feelings evoked by the past two books, this time Ripplinger leaves the reader feeling torn about what the fateful outcome of the two should ultimately be.
With the introduction of a whole new set of characters, from Henry’s wife, the lovely and serene Julean who we briefly met in Book Two, to the bright and cheerful household staff that are more like family to Jenny than employees, the parallel lives of Henry and Jenny are showcased over a vast period of time as they grow and mature and ultimately become parents themselves. And as always, deeply woven throughout the story, are the life lessons that Ripplinger releases with expert timing.
Much as David Chilton created the story of a thrifty barber who doled out financial advice to individuals at different periods in their financial lives in his Canadian bestseller The Wealthy Barber, so too has Ripplinger created a story that can make us all wealthier in a more spiritual sense if we but took the advice he offers. Through the ever-recurring erstwhile shopkeeper turned priest known as Mr. Engelmann (later known as Father Engelmann), who acts as Henry’s mentor and guide throughout all three books, Ripplinger guides and informs, without ever losing sight of the need to entertain his readers and keep them turning pages.
As Chilton did in the Wealthy Barber, the advice Ripplinger offers, using his characters as his instrument, is both relatable and down to earth. We have all at one time or another stood in the very shoes he describes: whether it’s finding a way to forgive someone who has done us harm, finding a way to find happiness in sadness, or even trying to realize that happiness is more a state of mind than a state of being.
In his pre-writing life, Ripplinger was a teacher, a good one from all I hear, and he doesn’t seem to have lost his touch. For while his writings speak of God and of spirituality, you don’t necessarily have to be of the same faith, or even the same belief system, to glean the truths that Ripplinger ends up sharing and teaching.
Guaranteed, even if you read the book with a hint of scepticism that people in real life scenarios could behave the way his characters do, you’ll come away from the read with a set of tools that can help you deal with almost any challenging situation that arises in your own life. And in this world that often offers way more challenges than solutions, couldn’t we all use all the help we can get?
“…examine your life. If you don’t, you will simply go about living the same way, day in and day out, doing the same thing. Is it any wonder that we complain how hard life is and how unhappy we are, lacking in inner peace?” – Father Engelmann
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