The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

“When the winds of heaven blow, men are inclined to throw back their heads like horses, and stride ruggedly into the gusts, pretending to be much healthier than they really are; but women tend to creep about, shrunk into their clothes and clutching miserably at their hats and hair.”

Louise Bickford had felt the force of the wind of heaven. In her early fifties in the early fifties, she found herself widowed, penniless and homeless after the death of her brutish husband.

Her daughters, three very different women, knew that they had to their duty and so she spent part of the year with each and the winter months in a run-down hotel owned by an old school friend.

It’s a far from ideal arrangement, but there seems to be no alternative. Louise’s suggestion that she earn a living is swiftly dismissed by her family. She is unskilled and it is not what women of her class do.

And so she tries to help out, to be unobtrusive, but sadly it is unappreciated. Louise’ daughters are wrapped up in their own lives their own concerns and give not one thought to how their mother might feel, what she might want.

The lack of understanding, the lack of communication, is horrible but it is utterly believable. That made this an uncomfortable read at times, but it was always compelling.

And if Louise could hold on then so could I.

She finds support from two of the more sensitive members of her family. And from a salesman who become a friend after a chance encounter in a cafe.

Monica Dickens writes such lovely prose and she is a fine storyteller. Characters, settings, and scenarios are all utterly believable. And she picks up exactly the right details to bring the story to life, to make it utterly real. 

Eventually, inevitably arrangements break down and Louise finds herself in trouble …

More than that I am not going to say.

Persephone Books will be reissuing The Winds of Heaven later this week and it is a very fine selection for its list.

A book to engage both emotions and social consciences.

The  world may have changed since the fifties, but this is still a book with a lot to say about relationships and social conventions.

Yes, a fine novel that stands the test of time.

10 responses

  1. I read my way through Monica Dickens years ago, and as I don’t own this own I am looking forward to getting a Persephone copy – I am very pleased that they are making her more widely known.

    • I was a little disappointed when I saw this was forttcoming from Persephone with a copy already on my shelves but now I read it I can see why it was chosen. And I do have a few other books by Monica Dickens to read.

  2. Thank you for the review of this.
    I loved Monica Dickens after reading her Follyfoot books as a teenager and then My Turn To Make The Tea about life as a junior reporter on a local newspaper (which was not a lot different to mine despite there being almost 30 years between them!)
    I look forward to reading The Winds of Heaven.
    BTW it is nice to have you back blogging again.

  3. I have the same edition as you on my pile to read. I picked up the Landlords Daughter at the same time. I also have Emma and Kate.Have you read either of those ones? I have recently read Mariana which I loved. My daughters were great fans of Follyfoot books and I still have my really old Penguin copies One Pair of Hands and One Pair of Feet. I really enjoy your blog.

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