Email this review


A cheerful tale is concerned with a middle-aged Irish woman who is married to three husbands simultaneously. Mary, at 18, practical except for an interest in writing (unfinished) novels, falls passionately in love with Patrick Murphy, a dentist, and marries him. After 20 years of a fiercely humdrum marriage in a gloomy small Irish town, Mary has only two friends and two children, and has begun a novel whose hero, Esmond, substitutes for her long-dead love for the undemonstrative Patrick. This dismal realization (and Esmond) sends her off alone for her first visit to London where she meets a widower, George, and posing as a widow, marries him. Esmond is temporarily used in a series of short stories where he turns out to be equally popular with other women. When suburban marriage to George becomes dull, Mary uses her now-successful writing as an excuse to go to Wales for more material. Here she falls in with a Bohemian group, including young Daffyd, the first man to really love her and she marries him too. For two years she manages to shuttle between husbands and most of this is great fun, and provides a nice, amoral, shrewd dissection of male-female relationships. The end suffers somewhat from an apparent attack of virtue; Mary, repentant, loses even Patrick in a chaotic finale although it becomes sadly clear that it is Esmond whom she really loves. Comic and highspirited.

Publisher: Dutton