Getting Off the Radiator: A Story of Shame, Guilt, & Forgiveness


Dorothy Preston’s debut memoir, Getting Off the Radiator: A Story of Shame, Guilt, and Forgiveness, is the story of a child growing up in a twenty-eight-room mansion infested with roaches and overrun with hippies, thieves, drug abusers, alcoholics, and a murderer. The youngest of seven children abandoned by their father, Preston watched while her mother struggled to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while also diving deeper into the bottle, standing in line for welfare, and renting rooms in their home for income. Given the cast of characters who passed through the house and the absence of parental guidance, the family lived the life of a twisted fairy tale in which shame, guilt, and anger played leading roles. Preston recounts her journey through childhood into adulthood, her years waging battles with her difficult past, overcoming adversity, practicing forgiveness, and cherishing the love of a family whose bonds cannot be broken. Beautifully written and accompanied by intimate family photographs, this is a memoir that breaks open what it means to live with a difficult past while struggling to embrace a hopeful future.



Editorial Reviews


“Welcome to the world of Preston Manor, a twenty-eight-room mansion where memoirist Dorothy Preston was raised along with her six siblings by her melodramatic, alcoholic mother in the omnipresent shadow of the father who abandoned them all . . . beautifully written-sometimes nostalgic, sometimes sweet, and sometimes terrifying . . . You’ll be grateful you’ve been given unrestricted access.”

-Joseph W. Naus, memoirist and author of Straight Pepper Diet and The Palsgraf Revelation

“A bold and vivid memoir of family dysfunction and finding a way to rise above it. Without judgment or blame, Dorothy Preston dives deep into the familial, especially parental relationships, that play such a key role in shaping us. This book will no doubt prove relatable and helpful to those who navigate challenging family forces while working toward a life of peace and love.”

-Lisa F. Smith, author of Girl Walks Out of a Bar


“Fascinating story of a fatherless family living in a twenty-eight-room mansion, teetering on the edge of poverty. The mother, incapacitated by self-pity and alcoholism, spirals into a state of delusion and denial . . . This riveting story of the trials and tribulations of the Preston family bring laughter, pain, deep love, and forgiveness to the forefront.”

-June S. Gatewood, author of several books for young adults

About the Author

Dorothy Preston has a degree in communications/media and has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years, including at Prentice Hall/Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, and Little Brown, to name a few. She has lived in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, but is currently settled in her native state of Massachusetts in Johnny Appleseed country just outside of Boston. She and her husband recently purchased land in Downeast Maine, and are planning on settling there in the next few years. If Preston is not hiking, cycling, running, or skiing, she’s taking in the aroma of apples and tapping away on her computer at her house on the hill with her dog, Rylee. It is her hope that by sharing her journey with those who have gone through similar ordeals, others might learn that forgiveness truly is divine and along with it comes peace.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Shanti Arts LLC (June 15, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 220 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1951651863
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1951651862
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14.1 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.98 x 0.6 x 9.02 inches

6 reviews for Getting Off the Radiator: A Story of Shame, Guilt, & Forgiveness

  1. Jessica C

    I had been waiting for the book to arrive like a kid waiting for Christmas… it was delayed, then lost, then resent. I have known Dorothy through her sister who has been in my life since I was just a toddler. I remembered some stories I had heard through the years about her mom and the house. I feel fortunate to have know her and also to have had the opportunity to be in the house a couple times. I dove in and started reading at 8:30 and by 2:30 AM I was sad… I had read the entire book and was so bummed there were not more chapters!
    Wow!!! Just wow!!! So well written! Her journey and her ability to share those very painful moments is inspiring. I loved her candor, her honesty and introspection. Dorothy’s ability to look back at herself, her siblings, her mom and even her dad through an understanding and forgiving lens was uplifting. I just love her and I loved this book!!!

  2. Rhonda Spaz

    This is one of those singularly lyrical stories that whispers to you long after you put it down. This is truly worthy of a Pulitzer. The author’s evocative prose, heartfelt hospitality into her inner world, and unflinching courage is life altering. It weaves its way into your own emotional DNA, forever changed by the depth and devastation this brave woman and her family faced and ultimately triumphed.

    I reluctantly read the last chapter and epilogue with the bittersweet slowness reserved only for other books of this magnitude: Lonesome Dove & To Kill a Mockingbird. Move over Pulitzer prize winners; there’s a new book in town.

  3. Ken Lind

    I love this book! It is a page turner, I couldn’t put it down. This is a well written and heartbreaking memoir of the author (little “Cha-Cha”)her siblings and their dysfunctional mom. It is an intimate exploration of a family in crisis, about how to survive adversity and at the same time practicing love and forgiveness.

  4. Jennifer Rand

    Reading this book is like eating chips ( and dip). Once you start, it’s hard to stop, but every once and a while you need to pause and digest. Many families during the 70s experienced things that were swept under the rug, hidden in the back of closets or just let disappear into thin air with the steam from that old radiator. The author colorfully unleashes the memories of her past, along with some “ not so proud” moments, causing you to laugh along with her at times, but also makes your heart ache for her and her family. By doing so, she has proven to herself and the world that you can overcome whatever has been thrown at you in the past. Beautifully written. Proud of you Dorth, well done!

  5. jgkp

    This is a soulful memoir of a daughter’s struggle to survive after the father abandoned her mother and 7 kids. After the older siblings leave home she is is left alone to fend for herself in their 28 their room mansion, and becomes a primary target of her forsaken mothers alcohol fueled unreasonable behavior. She details the unyielding suffering she endured with a droll sense of humor. In an extraordinary feat Preston discovers and nurtures her spirit and more than survived; she thrives. This is a story of the resiliency of the human spirit.

  6. D.J. Anderson

    This is a beautifully written, honest and intimate memoir of the author’s formative years in a very special family — and a very special house.

    The youngest of seven children whose father deserted the family when she was three, Ms. Preston details what it was like growing up as the youngest member of the fractured family in the elegant, 28-room Tudor-style mansion – which represents her mother’s “Tower in The Sky” in the poignant poem at the beginning of the book. Many characters came through the house, and the house itself is a bigger-than-life character throughout the memoir.

    Previously accustomed to a luxurious, high society lifestyle, the author’s devoutly Catholic mother was devastated and left entirely without financial support when her husband abandoned the family. In spite of her own catastrophic emotional deterioration and overuse of alcohol, she struggled to hold her family together and hold onto the house any way she could as her seven children grew up and left, one by one, each dealing with their own emotional wounds from their father’s unforgivable desertion and their mother’s difficulty in dealing with it.

    The author’s vivid descriptions of the incredible mansion and grounds at Buena Vista Plaza made me feel like I was there with her — looking out the window to the plaza below — sitting under the willow — admiring the crystal chandeliers, cherub lamps, mural paintings, and Persian rugs. Her personal anecdotes of events that took place in the house and descriptions of characters who passed through or rented rooms in the house are engaging, often amusing and occasionally frightening.

    Told from her perspective as the youngest child, the story begins with the dramatic departure of her father and follows the evolution of the family as she grew into womanhood, overcame adversity and learned to love and to forgive.

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