by Fay Weldon ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 1998
Four angry young 1970s women form a feminist publishing house in London only to find their own ambition no less virulent than men's--in Weldon's (Wicked Women, 1997, etc.) wry and witty examination of where feminism went wrong and, occasionally, right. The sexual revolution has just begun, but Stephanie is already fed up with her marriage to antiques dealer Hamish, a suburban heartthrob who lusts after every woman but her. Hosting a consciousness-raising meeting one summer evening, Stephanie thrills to the suggestion made by Layla, an heiress, that the women start their own publishing house and call it Medusa. She even joins in as Layla, Alice (an academic and I Ching addict), and Zoe (overeducated housewife/mom) defiantly remove their clothes and dance naked and unashamed before the living room windows. But when Stephanie wanders upstairs to find Daffy, another ""sister,"" getting it on with Hamish, she abandons the house without even her clothes, leaving husband, home and children in guileless Daffy's hands. Stephanie's marriage may be dead, but Medusa has been born; for the next two-and-a-half decades, Stephanie, Layla, and Alice straggle to keep their woman-centered business solvent without crossing the border into ""unacceptable"" commercial success. Along the way, they suffer the indignities of loneliness--as the courts limit Stephanie's access to her children, Layla continues an affair with a powerful but married man, and Alice moves ever closer to the maniacal extremes of goddess-worship. But at least they have each other. Zoe, who opted for a traditional family life, labors in isolation on her book (Lost Women) and then commits suicide when her husband tells her (falsely) that Medusa has turned the manuscript down. Eventually, Medusa turns the book into a massive success--but with success will come the seeds of disintegration. Weldon's clever comparisons of yesterday's mores to today's spice up this bubbling feminist brew, offering a study of the costs and consequences of the idealistic life that is sharp, funny, and all too true.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998
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