If It Looks Too Good To Be True…
Windmills of the Gods is Sidney Sheldon’s best novel, a tight political thriller completely free of his besetting writer’s sin, long flashbacks and mostly unnecessary character history. WOTG starts with a presumption that Donald Reagan did not rule his second term or that George Bush lost and US has a new liberal President Paul Ellison. In his campaign, Ellison promised to improve relations with the Soviet Union and other countries behind the then-existing Iron Curtain and is moving forward in a timely manner to open an embassy in Romania, which is ruled by dictator Alexandros Ionescu (an obvious alter ego of the real life dictator Nicolae Ceausescu). The new ambassador is a real wild card, Mary Ashley, mother of two in Kansas and a professor of political sciences at the local university. Selection of a total amateur for such important position causes great disapproval and ridicule but no one knows that there is a secret group behind it, they are called Liberators and their members include high level politicians and prominent people around the world. They resent President Ellison’s plan and have sworn to destroy it by killing sweet Mary and her children when the time comes and casting the blame of the assasination on Russians. Though the tragedy has already hit Mary’s life because she was initially reluctant to take the post due to family reasons and the Liberators had her loving doctor husband Edward killed by arranging a fatal car accident.
Mary Ashley is probably Sheldon’s most multi-layered and real heroine and he shows versatility as a writer by describing Mary’s everyday family life in Kansas as well vividly paints a picture of a high-level diplomat’s life in Washington and Bucharest. WOTG provides an entertaining information package of how daunting it actually is as an ambassador. Early wake up, office work grind all day, afterwards a delegation dinner in one or another embassy, followed by 1-5 cocktail parties to attend, sleep at midnight and wake up again in the morning at six o’clock for another similar day. By his eighth book, another Sheldon trademark, globetrotting, is well presented as the story moves from Buenos Aires to Paris, Rome and Romania, whilst The Liberators hold their sinister meetings in English castles, Russian factories, Finnish farmhouses. They are only known as code names after ancient gods, Thor, Zeus, Vishnu… thus the book title Windmills of the Gods.
The mystery concerning the identity of the high-ranking assassin only known as Angel hired do the dirty deed is very clever and copied at least once in a Mission Impossible episode. Highly exciting is also Mary’s, her children’s as well a few hundred of top-ranking guest’s rescue out of the harm’s way during the US embassy’s 4th of the July reception in Bucharest.
Jaclyn Smith, best knows as Kelly Garrett in original Charlie’s Angels, plays Mary Asley in a miniserie based on Widmills of the Gods.
Nicolae Ceausescu, 1918-1989, former president of Romania to whom the fictional character of Alexandros Ionescu is based.
Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, built Originally by Nicolae Ceausescu is the largest administrative building in the world with a floor space in excess of 365,000m2.