This book was written after "School for Love," and before the "Balkan Trilogy." In my view it hasn't aged as well as either of them. It tells an intertwining story of three women, Ellie Parsons. who is determined to make it on her own in London after a stifling provincial upbringing, Petta, an aging beauty who, having placed all her chips on her looks, is now facing a bleak future, and Nancy, Ellie's friend who is cagier and more daring than Ellie. Two aging male figures, related to each other, on the prowl for young conquests exploit the neediness of the younger women. The entitlement and arrogance of these men is appalling and enraging. This book is said to be in some measure autobiographical, and fans of Olivia Manning might appreciate it for that reason. Manning, who herself was aging when she wrote "Doves," said she wasn't a "woman writer" but a writer who was a woman. Nevertheless she was paid less than her male counterparts, and wasn't taken as seriously. No wonder she was angry. But there is another theme in this book besides the exploitation of women and aging, and that is about independence, an independence of the soul, you might say. Where is an aging woman, whose beauty is faded, to find the love she seeks so desperately? It may be that "The Doves of Venus" allowed Manning to work out some issues for herself that then set the stage for the truly great books to follow.