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The Winds of Heaven

by Monica Dickens

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PREFACE BY AS BYATT
328pp
ISBN 9781903155806


Knitting party by Evelyn Dunbar at the Imperial War Museum

The Winds of Heaven is a 1955 novel about 'a widow, rising sixty, with no particular gifts or skills, shunted from one to the other of her more or less unwilling daughters on perpetual uneasy visits, with no prospect of her life getting anything but worse’ (Afterword). One daughter is the socially ambitious Miriam living in the commuter belt with her barrister husband and children; one is Eva, an aspiring actress in love with a married man; and the third is Anne, married to a rough but kindly Bedfordshire smallholder who is the only one who treats Louise with more than merely dutiful sympathy. The one relation with whom she has any empathy is her grandchild.


The Winds of Heaven is very readable: like Dorothy WhippleMarghanita Laski or Noel Streatfeild, Monica Dickens had the knack of writing about ordinariness while making the reader unable to put her books down. It is about family relationships: it seems rather cruel that all three of Louise's daughters are so harsh to her but that, Monica Dickens is saying, is the way of the world.


As John Betjeman said in a Daily Telegraph review: 'Monica Dickens is one of the most affectionate and humorous observers of the English scene, particularly of the pretensions of genteel suburban life, that we have. Not only this, but she can always tell a good story, touch the heart with a pleasant sentimental grace… I think The Winds of Heaven is her best novel yet.'’ While Elizabeth Bowen wrote in Tatler: ‘Monica Dickens has chosen a situation perfectly suited to her art – her sense of comedy, her affection for people and her almost uncanny knowledge of their small ways. Here, in fact, is humour at its most kindly… How well she sees extraordinary in the ordinary, and how familiar she is with all kinds of people… Not a page of The Winds of Heaven is not enjoyable: here's a fine blend of comedy with sheer good sense.'

Endpaper

A 1950s furnishing fabric, origin unknown.

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