Lovely, undemanding reading for a Sunday afternoon when you can't be bothered going out for a walk. As a previous reviewer has pointed out, this is a King Lear story about a mother with three daughters, set in the early 1950s. Louise has been left penniless after the death of her overbearing husband, which leaves her dependent on these daughters for everything, a roof over her head, a busfare into town, a new dress. She is passed from one to another like an unwanted parcel, spending two months a year with each of them, only to be billeted for the winter months on a friend who runs a chaotic seaside hotel. One daughter is socially ambitious, a brittle, unsympathetic woman with disappointments of her own; the middle daughter is an aspiring actress, in love with a married man; the youngest is a slattern, married to a man who is socially beneath her (but he is the only one who shows any understanding to her mother). None of the daughters is exactly unkind; but they make Louise feel like the burden that she undoubtedly is. (In the early 1950s, when being 50 was most certainly not the new 30, it is taken for granted that a middle-aged, middle-class woman is too old and useless to get a job or be self-supporting.) Louise's only friend is a fat man who sells beds in a department store on Oxford Street; she knows that her daughters would dismiss him as 'common.'
I wallowed in this book for a whole weekend, though the melodramatic ending is a disappointment. See that it's soon to be republished by Persephone Books and it's definitely one of those old-fashioned titles they describe as 'hot water bottle' novels. Much better reading, I thought, than their other Monica Dickens title, Mariana. Although perhaps it's an age thing; Mariana is a girls' book, The Winds of Heaven is middle-aged escapism.