Today 'The Winds of Heaven' by Monica Dickens blew down from the bookshelves and came to life with Persephone readers in Bloomsbury.
The aspect of Persephone books that I love so much is their constant relevance to today's life- or indeed a timeless quality than spans years and experience. So a book that was written in the 1950's can speak on levels that are relevant to now- whenever now is.
This beautifully observed book on being a widow , and the journey of life for Louise and her relationship with her three daughters Miriam , Anna , Eva and granddaughter Ellen, is a considered study of loneliness , isolation and how random opportunities can dictate unforeseen consequences.
Debbie Kerslake of Cruse gave 'a well modulated ' talk [ quote -Nicola Beaumont] about the book's portrayal of grief and how bereavement can affect individuals in many ways. I will not try to convey the contents of the talk as it will be appearing at a later date in one of the Persephone magazines and the words would not be mine. Suffice to say, it was a very moving discussion and I was so glad to have experienced it. http://www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk/
So whilst the written word is food for the soul, so the visual is a feast for the eyes. I reflect on how fiction jumps from the page and triggers personal experiences and memories. We can use fiction as a form of escapism or we can use it as a vehicle for vocalising emotions. I sit in these comfortable surroundings with women I have never met, discussing personal private emotions and fight back the tears. We women are unknowingly connected through the written text .
'How odd it was, the way their roles in life had become reversed, the mother's and the daughter's. For what a short time, it seemed , has Louise been able to look after Miriam. Now it was the other way round. Miriam was responsible for her mother.'
' I must not die before she's grown up and married, Louise thought.Whatever happens , I must not die and leave her.'
Monica Dickens: The Winds of Heaven.
I will always remember my mother's face and her words when we took her to see the Oncologist to discuss her condition. She questioned, knowingly, of how she would not live to see her grandchildren grow up. Her fierce love was so prevalent. Bereavement is so personal that nothing is ever the same again.
So thank you Persephone, Monica Dickens and Debbie Kerslake. It was a good book, a good lunch and a good discussion. We all streamed out from Persephone and back into our own world's the richer for the experience.
Walking home through Bloomsbury I pondered on how wonderful it is that fiction so often mirrors life and that life can be vocalised so meaningfully through fiction.
Normally I would end with a quote but tonight an image will suffice.