“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.