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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
We are introduced to Maddy when she is in her nineties and has been diagnosed as displaying symptoms of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Determined to stay out of the local care home for as long as possible and in spite of the occasional memory lapses, she continues to lead an independent life. Maddy’s Wings by Jan Porter describes how she is assisted by her son-in-law, with whom she had lost contact after her only daughter died due to complications during the delivery of their child. Their acquaintance is renewed when she contacts him about the disposal of her assets, along with a new neighbor and her feisty young daughter who become close friends, and an aggressive carer who seems determined to put her into the nursing home she is trying to avoid. Her life enters new and uncharted territory.
But Maddy is haunted by memories of the air crash that ended her flying career, a crash which she believes killed her crew - a crash for which she cannot help but feel responsible. When her son-in-law takes it upon himself to try to obtain the report of the accident (which has so far been restricted by the military), she is at first reluctant to dredge up old memories. Encouraged by her friends and neighbors, however, she begins to recount many memories - some sad, some hilarious, some distressing and some heart-warming. But there is still a level of trepidation concerning the air crash. If the report is released, what will it reveal? Was she responsible?
Maddy’s Wings is an ambitious book which deals with a great variety of troubling topics and difficult themes - the care of the elderly along with their legal rights and freedoms, the harrowing, traumatic memories of war veterans, the treatment of gay men during the period between the two World Wars and the damage caused by paedophile priests who were shielded and protected by the Church, to name just a few. The narrative, though cumbersome in places, has enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged, springing a few surprises as the story progresses. The characters are a diverse group which will elicit sympathy, laughter, and outrage in equal measure. Maddy’s Wings provides a serious look at old age, memories, trauma and the approach of Alzheimer’s disease. Jan Porter may have penned an important book on the subject of aging.