What’s to be done with a precious five-month-old baby left in your care—if she’s not reclaimed by the mother? This is the dilemma faced by a housekeeper in The Wings of Destiny, by Molly Odegard Nikolic.
The housekeeper turns for help to her employers, a childless couple who desperately want an infant, who adopt the baby, named Betty Gray. We see her grow into an accomplished young woman under the careful tutelage of her adoptive parents. We also follow Betty’s acting-obsessed mother Helen from her local theater successes, to Hollywood and, finally, in later years, to Vienna, Austria, where she marries a member of the region’s royalty.
Predictably, problems ensue when Betty learns of her birth mother’s existence and wants to know why she was abandoned all those years ago. Helen is finally called to account, and the denouement is bittersweet.
This is an ambitious book that tries valiantly to live up to its equally ambitious title. But while the plotline is promising, much of the novel’s narrative is bogged down by verbose dialogue and overly descriptive detail. For example, description of an entire living room’s furnishings takes up
three pages. Also, many will find the prose saccharine. The family often exchanges this sort of unrealistic dialogue: “Darling, come upstairs. I’m going to draw you a nice warm bath.” And, “Morning, Mother. This is a lovely breakfast. Oh, did I tell you about the upcoming spring class trip?” The word “lovely” is mentioned countless times.
The Wings of Destiny successfully relates a story about how a mother’s love can take a back seat to career aspirations — with dire consequences to many. But in the end, the loquacious verbiage and stilted conversations weigh it down, making for a less-than-satisfying read.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.