Flights of Angels (published in Germany as Unter Deinem Stern) has been made into a TV movie by Ziegler Film, Himmlischer Besuch für Lisa, starring Ralf Bauer and Mira Bartuschek.
Just when you think you’ve found true love, death gets in the way …
What would you do if your husband died and you started seeing tiny angels on your desk at work?
What would you do if your girlfriend left with your life savings, leaving only a broken heart and a goldfish behind?
Claudie and Simon: two people battered and bruised by life. But can they learn to love again?
‘A lovely, feel-good story’ – Katie Fforde
‘A lovely, tender, uplifting read – a wonderful debut novel’ – Elizabeth Young
‘A delightful book, witty and original’ – The Romantic Novelists’ Association
‘How long has it been now?’ Angela asked after swallowing a mouthful of machine-processed coffee.
‘Nine months,’ Kristen replied, opting for the hot chocolate after seeing Angela’s weak specimen.
‘Is that long enough, do you think? You know – to get over it?’
Kristen puffed out her cheeks and sighed. ‘Well, it once took me nine months to get over an ex-boyfriend.’
‘Blimey! How long had you been going out with him?’
Angela nodded in sympathy and drained her cup, filling it up again. This time, the coffee came out looking like molasses.
‘It’s not natural, is it?’ she said, not noticing the contents of her cup. ‘I mean, he was so young. It just seems so unfair.’
Kristen nodded, looking across at Claudie who was staring vacantly at her PC, her pen hanging out of her mouth as if it were a particularly potent joint. ‘I hardly recognise her these days. She’s just shut herself away.’
‘So what did all those books say? You must have read every one written on the subject by now.’
Kristen sipped her chocolate, licking the undissolved particles from her lips.
‘They’re perfectly useless. One will say one thing, the next: another. I don’t think anybody really knows.’
‘But wasn’t there that emotional equation thing?’
‘That the stronger the love, the longer you grieve?’ Kristen looked at Angela. ‘So, the only way to avoid grief is by not loving.’
Angela shook her head. ‘It’s not natural. How can a person get through life without loving?’
‘I don’t think you can.’
‘No. It can’t be done, can it?’
They stood in silence for a moment, drinking and thinking.
‘And her mother’s been an absolute cow. You know she went back to France straight after the funeral?’
‘Didn’t even wait for her son-in-law to turn cold.’
‘Oh, don’t Kris!’
‘I feel so angry about it. It’s as if she didn’t have a daughter. She’s a silly, selfish cow! I know she and Claudie have never been close but you’d think she’d be around for her daughter at a time like this, wouldn’t you? And Luke’s family have been useless too. They never ring Claudie to check up on her. I know Luke and Claudie weren’t married very long but it’s as if she was never a member of their family at all.’
‘It’s not right, is it?’
‘You’re damned right it’s not.’
‘We’ll have to do something, won’t we?’ Angela said.
‘She’s still seeing that bloke in York. That must be helping,’ Kristen reasoned.
‘How do you know? Are you sure she doesn’t just get on the train and go shopping?’
‘No! She wouldn’t do a thing like that.’
‘Or go and sit in the cinema? You know what she’s like with films.’
Kristen knew only too well. There’d been many a Saturday evening when she’d tried to drag an unwilling Claudie away from her collection of MGM musicals and actually leave the house.
There was one time, in particular, that haunted Kristen. Two months after Luke had died, Kristen had gone round with some shopping for Claudie. The door had been left open – something Kristen constantly chided Claudie about – and she’d found Claudie sitting in the middle of the living room floor, her collection of films strewn about as if there’d been an explosion.
‘I can’t find it!’ Claudie said as soon as Kristen walked in.
‘Find what?’ Kristen asked, horrified at the pale face and large, haunted eyes which stared back at her.
‘Kiss Me Kate.’
‘Maybe it’s in the wrong box?’ Kristen suggested.
‘But I’ve checked! I’ve checked! And it’s not here.’
‘It must be here,’ Kristen said, getting down on her knees to help. ‘Just calm down, Claudes. It’ll be here.’
But Claudie hadn’t calmed down. In fact, she’d got worse: flinging video boxes and DVDs around until it had become impossible to find anything.
‘Where is it? I’ve got to find that film! Help me find it, Kris! Help me find it!’
‘CLAUDIE! You’re scaring me! Stop it! Stop it!’ Kristen had yelled, grabbing her shoulders. Claudie was shaking violently and Kristen had wrapped her in a tight embrace.
‘It’s all right!’ she’d told her over and over again.
It had been horrible. Kristen had never been so scared in her life and never wanted to see Claudie like that again. She’d stayed with her for the rest of the day and the night too, comforting and reassuring her, feeding her and putting her to bed, playing nurse, best friend and mother.
‘So what are we going to do?’ Angela asked, bringing Kristen back to the present.
‘Well, we can’t exactly follow her to York, can we? We have to trust that she actually does go to see this fellow. I wish she’d get a mobile phone, though. At least we could check up on her from time to time.’
‘But you have to switch mobiles off in the cinema. So we wouldn’t know if she’d seen this bloke or not. She could just tell us she did.’
Kristen glared at Angela. ‘I don’t know why we’re talking about mobiles when she hasn’t got one and has no intentions of getting one either,’ Kristen said and then she frowned. ‘What is she doing with that pen pot?’
Kristen and Angela watched Claudie’s glossy brown bob swinging from side to side as she examined the stationery on her desk.
‘That’s the third time she’s emptied it this morning,’ Kristen whispered.
‘And she’s sorted through her in-tray a dozen times too. She must have lost something.’
Kristen nodded. She’d been afraid of as much for the last nine months.
Claudie looked at the growing pile of work leaning precariously over the edge of her table like a paper version of the Tower of Pisa. She had enough to keep her busy for a week but she just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm.
It was odd but, since that morning, she’d had the strangest sensation that she was being watched. Yes, she knew Kristen and Angela had been talking about her again: they were about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but there was something else. It was almost as if her computer had turned into an enormous eye; a great spying Cyclops on her desk, watching her, recording her, assessing her. It gave her the shivers. She kept having to get up and leave her desk. A bit of filing here, a quick trip to the ladies, a lengthy session at the photocopier. But, as soon as she sat down, the feeling would come back.
She’d soon become paranoid and had started looking around the room, half-expecting to see a hidden camera, as if she were the unwilling guinea pig on a new television programme. But everything seemed normal; depressingly so.
Then there was the other problem. She kept losing things. Yesterday, it had been her calculator, today her silver pen. She was sure she’d left it by her keyboard, but it wasn’t there any more. Was she going mad? It was very probable. She really couldn’t trust herself with anything at the moment.
And then it had happened. From the corner of her eye, she saw something move: quick and fluid as a fish. She turned round and blinked, but whatever it was had gone. She shook her head and smiled. She knew what her problem was: she needed a dose of caffeine.
Still, as she wondered whether to have weak-as-rainwater tea or thick-as-quicksand chocolate, she couldn’t get it out of her head. For a moment, she’d sincerely believed she’d seen a tiny person diving into her pen pot.
Click here to buy Unter Deinem Stern
Click on the clapperboard for photos from the film set.