The Book Review: A Flock of Sparrows by Helen Foster Reed

The internal conflicts described in Reed’s book mirrors those of women the world over.

A Flock of Sparrows by Helen Foster Reed represents how three authors can collaborate to write a poignant piece of literature. The text is so seamless that when the reader finishes the last word on the last page and reflects about the content, he/she also wonders when did one author begin and another take over the narration. That’s what I did. I look forward to meeting Helen R. Myers, Madeleine June Foster, and Mary Gail Reed. These three ladies share a commonality with the women they feature in their book.


The story begins with the thought that no matter how hard we work or will a perfect life, things just have a way of falling apart. The idea reminded me of “Ode to a Mouse” by Robert Burns:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,

            Gang aft agley,

            An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

            For promis’d joy!

Five widows who are in various stages of the grief cycle decide to spend Thanksgiving together and are snowed in during the storm of the century at a farm less than ten miles outside of the city limits of Martin’s Mill. Each lady has experienced a different journey to reach the not so coveted title of “widowhood.”

The story is told through the eyes of Loretta Brown Cole (Retta) who owns the farm and who struggles daily to care for the animals she owns and to hang onto the land which has been in her family for several generations. She recognizes the need for change, yet she feels guilty about moving into another relationship. How could she love again and still be loyal to her deceased husband?

While Retta looks forward to spending Thanksgiving with Maggie, her best friend for many years, she questions the compatibility of the five women.

“The five of us would make an unlikely group. Granted, we were all widows, part of that grimly singular club no one wants to join; however, we were from vastly divergent backgrounds, and our ages were equally different, ranging from the enviable thirties to the sixty-somethings.”

Nature’s cold and icy flurry raging against the pastoral landscape is no contender for the emotions raging inside walls of the farmhouse. Maggie’s constant harangue against the other ladies is as dangerous to their friendship as the ice accumulating on the branches of the oak and pine trees. All of the women tiptoe around Maggie, not understanding her acrimony toward them.

Sybil, who is a teacher, knows how life can be a struggle. She worked all of her life to drag her family out of poverty and has become one of the most respected women in her church and community.

Dana had a promising career as a musician but made the mistake of falling in love with a soldier who accepted one deployment too many.

Carly is the one from the “wrong side of town” who married an older man. She is now the wealthiest woman in the area.

Maggie, after several divorces, finally had married the love of her life only to lose him to a terminal illness.

Helen Foster Reed’s book is for any woman who has (1) lost the only man she has ever loved because of his health; (2) lost the one she loved because his duty to his country outweighed his duty to her; (3) lost the one she loved because he didn’t honor the sacred vows he made to her; and (4) lost the one she loved and became the epitome of a “gold digger” to the community.

The internal conflicts described in Reed’s book mirrors those of women the world over. I highly recommend this literary masterpiece.

Please click HERE to purchase your copy of Flock of Sparrows.


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