The Winds of Heaven, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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In The Winds of Heaven, a woman in late middle age is left nearly destitute when her husband dies. Forced to live off her three daughters, Louise spends her time going back and forth between the three of them. One is married to a successful attorney; another to a rural farmer; and the third works as an actress in London, having an affair with a married man.It’s a bittersweet little story; Louise is treated as elderly, although she’s only 57, and treated as though she’s yesterday’s trash by her daughters and their husbands. On the other hand, she begins a friendship with a man who works in the mattress section of a large department store, offering her some kind of companionship in her “old age.” Dudley is the only one who treats Louise really well, not expecting anything back from her, but it’s not until it’s nearly too late that she realizes what a good friend he is. The other touching part of the story is Louise’s relationship with her young granddaughter, another person who doesn’t expect much from her.I love Monica Dickens’s descriptions of the characters; although everyone seems to blend together at first, each of the three daughters quickly becomes delineated. They are all completely different, but similar in their indifference towards their mother. This book reminds me a lot of Vita Sackville-West’s All Passion Spent, a novel about a widow’s struggle to assert her own independence after her children have grown up and her husband has passed away. The story also reminds me a lot of Dorothy Whipple’s They Were Sisters, a story that’s mostly about the relationship between three sisters, but similar in describing the lives of very different people.

Review by

21 Jan 2011 Louise, widow of a horrible bully in a perilous financial state of his own overweening making, is thrown upon the mercies of their three very different daughters. He only allies are one grand-daughter, a lovely cat and dog, a caravan (yes, it's a character in its own right!) and a potboiler-writing, portly, bed salesman. Reminiscent of Whipple's "They Were Sisters", the family relationships and characters are beautifully drawn and the plot pulls you along in the firm hopes that something good will come to dear Louise ...Although some of the characters are sweet, the situation they are in, and the lesson for women about (not) relying solely on men and marriage for emotional sustenance is sharp, even if the ending is conventional in some ways. An excellent read.

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