Changing Heaven

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As poetically detailed as THE WHIRLPOOL, her first novel, Jane Urquhart’s CHANGING HEAVEN is a literary romance which explores the romantic love that preoccupies Urquhart’s characters.

The novel focuses on the love affair of Arianna Ether and Jeremy Jacobs, and of Ann Frear and Arthur Woodruff, and features in each affair the woman’s view of it.

Arianna Ether is the stage name of Polly Smith, who begins her career as a seamstress in a factory and, around 1900, ends it as a balloonist. Jeremy Jacobs, a balloonist himself, finds Polly when he is having a balloon made in the factory, and falls in love with her because of her “lightness.” She is so airy in body and spirit that eventually she becomes the balloonist and he her manager. Only when he plans to kill her by tampering with her parachute does his failed love for her return. Arianna herself becomes a ghost on the Yorkshire moors, in the company of the ghost of Emily Bronte, who tutors Arianna in the stormy aspects of love which Bronte has exemplified in the characters Catherine and Heathcliff in WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

While Emily and Arianna discuss the nature of romantic love, in alternate chapters Ann Frear, an English literature professor in Toronto, undergoes a punishing affair with Arthur Woodruff, an art historian and Tintoretto scholar teaching at her university. From an early age entranced by WUTHERING HEIGHTS’ view of love as passionate conflict, which she later...

(The entire section is 402 words.)