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Playing with an angel

Nick Sharratt's cover art forewarns the reader that Jacqueline Wilson's latest novel, Vicky Angel (Doubleday pound;10.99), is going to be a weepy read.

Jade's best friend, Vicky, is knocked down by a car in the opening pages and pronounced dead by chapter three. Wilson intentionally keeps the tragedy strangely low-key (some readers may find the brief hospital scenes unnecessarily throw-away), because her main interest in writing this story turns out to be as much an examination of the dynamics of friendship, as it is one of grief and bereavemnt.

Adults will see parallels with Anthony Minghella's film Truly, Madly, Deeply. Vicky returns, as a ghost-cum-angel, to continue her relationship with Jade: one which is life-enhancing, but in which Vicky is dominant and controlling. Ultimately, Vicky acquires full angel status, and Jade a new sense of independence and self-assurance.

This novel, for Years 5 and 6, will ask a greater than usual suspension of disbelief from Wilson's many fans, but is further proof that she is working a rich vein of novelistic invention.

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