In a seemingly ordinary street, the lives of ordinary people are forever changed by the arrival of Maud Phelan and her mother Kitty. Physically disabled Sheila McGann and her mother Eileen are immediately captivated by these exotic creatures who live across the road from them in a camper van. As time goes by the ties that bind the four women strengthen until their lives melt into one symbiotic existence. Maud and Kitty experience the lust, passion and illicit affairs, while Sheila and Eileen vicariously enjoy the adventure from the safety of the sidelines, until adventure turns inevitably to tragedy.
Set in Ireland in the 1970's The Cloths of Heaven is Sheila's recollection of the parallel existence she and her mother shared with Maud and Kitty. Sheila attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the past and finds her loyalties torn between being true to Maud or true to the parish priest, Michael Daly who has been sucked in to Mauds fantasies.
A warm and well-written book: I looked forward to pick it up again
15 juni 2015
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A body may not be in full working order, but the mind is, and Sheila McGann shows just that. Not being able to do much without the help of others Sheila is confined to her wheelchair in 1970's Ireland. "Wild" Kitty Phelan and her daughter Maud arrive in the neighbourhood and become friends with Sheila and her Mum. Warm friendships develop and the girls exchange feelings, secrets, passions. But who is the really 'crippled' person?
I loved the book which gave me a Maeve Binchy-feeling at times (which is good!). There's a wonderful sentence that gives a good indication of the book's feel: "Physical disability is not synonymous with failure. I am glad I learned that lesson." Sheila has a good head on her shoulders and she has people around her who see that. It is a reminder to a lot of people that being disabled doesn't mean a person doesn't have a brilliant mind.
The story flows, has humour, tragedy, and shows life in Ireland the way I imagined it would have been back then. Clearly the author knows what she is writing about. A very good read, and I hope to read more from this author!
Contemporary Irish Fiction, dealing with topical issues. Nesbitt questions the role of the church in modern times. Does it offer solace to those who have to endure the limitations of physical handicap in a country where prayer is supposed to cure all ills, and where practical solutions are left to charity rather than government policy? Nesbitt takes these and other issues, and wraps them in a cloth of imagination and comes up with a novel, written with skill, yet without melodrama or pity. The result is a universally appealing page-turner.