by Ashley Yarbrough
Crowley (aka Crawly, a dig at losing his legs in the Garden of Eden) and Aziraphale were both created as angels during the beginning of time. However, Crowley “did not so much as fall as saunter vaguely downwards,” leading him to become a fallen angel but hinting to the reader his lack of any actual ill will. Hell’s leadership (Satan, presumably) assigns him to help make sure the Apocalypse happens hoping to overthrow Heaven.
Heaven also assigns Aziraphale to earth, but his job is to make sure Heaven wins the upcoming war. The problem is both these characters like earth and its people, so they spend their time trying to obey their respective authorities and make sure the Apocalypse doesn’t happen. This is how their friendship begins – opposing allies against the Apocalypse.
At first their friendship is fairly distant. They meet only occasionally (hundreds or thousands of years apart). However, when the initial phase of Armageddon begins through the Antichrist’s arrival, both are distraught and begin discussing how to avoid the seemingly inescapable end of the world. Their answer, thanks to Crowley’s focus during the duo’s drunken conversation over a metaphorical bird, is to raise the Antichrist as unseen pseudo-godparents and make sure he does not do what he is destined to do. However, thanks to some very inept, talkative, devil-worshipping nuns, they lose the Antichrist literally hours after its birth. Oops.
The rest of the novel switches perspectives among the Antichrist (a preteen boy), Aziraphale, and Crowley. The novel is witty and entertaining. It’s full of adorable scenes that show the sweet friendship between the two, such as their hilarious travels in Crawley’s precious car trying to hunt down the antichrist but accidentally stealing the prophecies of a witch instead.
Some reviewers of the novel (and the Amazon Prime show) imply that Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship is romantic, but this seems a stretch. I think it’s a beautiful commentary on what a real friendship is, especially when we consider the authors of this novel. Pratchett and Gaiman were two very close friends who both took on the persona of these angels. They took turns writing, sending the novel back and forth, and just playing with the idea of what would happen if an angel and a demon became friends. The novel’s witty dialogue and plot are evidence of this. Despite the rather serious setting and subject, everything is pure humor, absurdity, and playfulness. Both characters are obedient to their respective authorities and never imply they would rather be different. Instead, their only concern seems to be that they want earth to remain in existence for selfish reason: Crawley likes the extravagance of it (as the reader sees in his love of his car and his general attire), and Aziraphale enjoys his bookshop and tea.
In fact, at the end of the novel, Aziraphale tells Crawley, he’s “just a little bit a good person,” and Crawley says Aziraphale is “just enough of a bastard to be worth knowing.” This shows that, although they are fond of each other, they aren’t in a romantic relationship. The story ends with the assumption they will return to their only occasional meet-ups, which makes perfect sense when we think of the writers: friends who only seem to come together when their lines naturally cross, but who also respect and admire the other for being themselves. That friends do not have to share everything in common or even see each other that often is a great reminder of what friendship actually is: respect and love for who another person is—no requirements or appointments necessary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Yarbrough is a writer, mother, teacher, gardener, and many other things. She writes about it all here. Feel free to take a look!