Summary of Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Keep in mind that the full title of this story is Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories. This title is significant considering the plot and the episodic nature of the book that actually contains six stories: “My Shape,” “The High Road,” “Gaspara Stampa,” “Ashes of Love,” “Ideas of Heaven,” and “The Same Ground.” The irony is, I am not sure if you want the summary of the whole book or the one story; therefore, I am happy to provide a general description of this collection of stories that are connected in such an interesting way.

All of the stories in Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories are about an intense longing for someone. Depending on the story involved, the longing can go on for years and years. Further, all of the stories show how sexuality and spirituality can be combined in order to comfort individuals. In the first story, a lady is bothered by her coach in her chosen activity of dance. The dance coach eventually endures his own heartache. Meanwhile, a poet of the sixteenth century meets a modern person reading Rilke.   Suddenly, we are reading a story about missionaries in China. Then we see Giles, a character in the last story, who considers Buddhism and then grows to love the dancer in “My Shape.”

In conclusion, it is important to note that all the stories are connected and, in this way, come full-circle for the reader. In this way, “My Shape,” “The High Road,” “Gaspara Stampa,” “Ashes of Love,” “Ideas of Heaven,” and “The Same Ground” are all connected. One minor character in one story will become a major character in the next story. In this way, the stories truly become “a ring” in Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories.

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