Join (Free!) | Login  

     Popular! Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry
   Services MarketPlace (Free to post!)
Where Authors and Readers come together!


Featured Authors:  Florence Weinberg, iElizabeth Weeks-Rowe, iKim Glassman, iCatriona King, iDouglas Skopp, iFrank Stephenson, iR. Glenn Brown, i

  Home > Reviews > Articles Popular: Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry     


· Become a Fan
· Contact me
· Sponsor Me!
· Books
· Articles
· Poetry
· News
· Stories
· Blog
· Messages
· 86 Titles
· 138 Reviews
· Save to My Library
· Share with Friends!
Member Since: Before 2003


Subscribe to the SARA WEBB QUEST Newsletter. Enter your name and email below and click "sign me up!"
SARA WEBB QUEST, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.

   Recent articles by

Osterville Historical Museum’s town spirit
‘Second Glance’ Helps Keep Family Pantry Going
Economy Fosters ‘Family’ Helping Family
CORALINE -- Neil Gaiman
Book Review: Ocean Wide, Ocean Deep -- Susan Lendroth
Local Writing = Endless Inspiration
Book Review: Saving Zoe -- Alyson Noel
Book Review: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen -- Stephanie Hale
WRITER'S WEEKLY Article, May 30, 2007 Issue: Child + Writer = Inspiration
Book Review: The Talented Clementine -- Sara Pennypacker
Book Review: The Opposite -- Tom MacRae
           >> View all

Book Review: The Cloths of Heaven -- Geraldine Nesbitt
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, September 12, 2004
Posted: Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Share    Print   Save    Become a Fan

Suite101's Geraldine Nesbitt, novelist and topic editor of "The Writing Process -- from Idea to Bookshelf," has written a modern classic.

* * * *1/2 (of five) stars!

This novel is a first-person retelling by one Sheila McGann, a young woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. From pre-pubescence through early adulthood, Sheila records the tragic friendship with Maud Phelan that has changed her life. The story begins with Maud's mother Kitty parking their motor home on James Street, where Sheila, her mother and unassuming father live. Sheila’s “Mam” takes a liking to Kitty, who is everything she isn't -- carefree, sultry and full of attitude. Sheila and Mam become loyal visitors of the Phelans until the four women's lives mesh into one.

For Sheila living through Maud has rewards. Before Maud's appearance, Sheila was reliant on Mam, who has met every basic human need. Post Maud she is taken to breathtaking heights, evidenced in jaunts to the nearby Shannon River where Maud hauls Sheila out of her wheelchair to lay her on the grass. But there is something deeper going on. What Nesbitt initially and cleverly conceals is that Maud is as desperate for approval as Sheila. Nesbitt's vision of the ugliness Sheila must confront on a daily basis splendidly diverts reader attention away from Maud's inner chaos. Sheila's muscles lock, speech falters, mouth drools and handicap permits her from going to the bathroom solo. Nesbitt's realism is so profound readers empathize with Sheila's fear and self-loathing, viewing Maud as the healthful answer.

All the while, Maud is following in the careless footsteps of a promiscuous mother. She gives her body and a ration of soul to each of three men, as Sheila is realizing that to drink in Maud is to live in a shadow. Throughout, there are characters whose lives reverberate from the main ones. Michael Daly, a young American-influenced priest practicing a religion of which he is dubious, tutors Sheila in Maud’s absence, creating a protégé. Then there is Sheila's future husband Donal whom she meets at The Home, a boarding school for the handicapped, and whom Nesbitt uses as vehicle for Sheila's emerging self-awareness through the idea of equal love. And, there is Liam and Christy, two men Sheila and Maud meet while summering in Fanore with Mam and Kitty. Fanore and the men serve as carefree contrasts to the story's 1970s Northern Irish-conflict setting. The main irony is in Nesbitt's morally weak characters -- since they are the ones to fall. Strong-bodied Liam is self-consumed in his involvement with the IRA. His passion and haste pave the path for an early death. Maud, sexually gracing the bodies of men, winds up pregnant then worse.

At book's end Sheila, emerging from Maud's shadow, finds her own light. A final meeting with Michael Daly uncovers a surprising truth about Maud's death, for which Sheila has felt unrelenting need to investigate and chronicle, thus beginning her on a new career in journalism. How apt the amputation of Maud from her life leaves her stronger. Nesbitt uses a simple style to present an atypical heroine who is proof freedom rings from within. The book's one tragedy is that it hasn't achieved the fame it deserves.


Web Site: Alternative Writing

Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!

Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!

Books by

The Other Side of the World

Buy Options

Aydil Vice & Her Disgustin' Hair Knots

Buy Options

Aydil Vice and the Stinky Habit

The Other Side of the World and Back

The Complete Writer’s Journal

Buy Options
Amazon, more..

Burning the Midnight Oil: How We Survive as Writing Parents -- By Dawn Colclasure

A Mountain Place

Buy Options

The Movies that Make You Scream! by R David Fulcher

This book looks at a number of adaptations of the written works of Stephen King brought to the big screen and the pressure points in the human psyche that in my opinion makes these..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

The Movies that Make You Scream! by R David Fulcher

This book looks at a number of adaptations of the written works of Stephen King brought to the big screen and the pressure points in the human psyche that in my opinion makes these..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Authors alphabetically: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Featured Authors | New to AuthorsDen? | Add AuthorsDen to your Site
Share AD with your friends | Need Help? | About us

Problem with this page?   Report it to AuthorsDen
© AuthorsDen, Inc. All rights reserved.