Magazine article The Spectator

Pass the Cheese, Louise

Magazine article The Spectator

Pass the Cheese, Louise

Article excerpt

The Winds of Heaven

by Monica Dickens

Persephone, £12, pp.320,


Widowhood in 1955 was not a desirable state.

Not, at any rate, for Louise Bickford, heroine of The Winds of Heaven (first published in 1955, now reprinted by Persephone). Louise is 57. She has a small, inadequate income from her parents. From her ghastly husband Dudley she has inherited nothing but debts.

She has lost her house and all her possessions, save a few clothes, and with them her way of life, her identity and her place as an adult invested with those attributes. In middle age, she has been downgraded to second chilhood. None of which is her fault.

Within the parameters of Monica Dickens's mid-century, middle-class world, such is the inevitable result of financial ruin and dependency. At a time of economic uncertainty, this is a troubling suggestion for readers today.

So Louise is 'like a child who has got lost on a church outing'. During the course of Dickens's novel, she will be found - although rescue comes from an unlikely quarter and is, again, none of Louise's doing.

In the aftermath of Dudley Bickford's death, his three grown-up daughters devise a plan: their mother will live with each of them in turn throughout the course of the summer, while during the winter she will stay in a hotel on the Isle of Wight belonging to her oldest schoolfriend, Sybil, who offers her cut-price rates.

This is not, take note, Louise's plan. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.