Email this review


 Combining what he calls ``the amenities of a novel with the variety of a story collection,'' Scottish author Gray (Lanark, The Fall of Kelvin Walker) presents a witty, if uneven, tale of four women brought together by ``something leather.'' Set mostly in Glasgow, at a time when the city is poised for urban renewal, the vignettes here concern the past lives of the four women. There is June, the cool divorcÇe whose only pleasure seems to be dressing well. Wanting something in leather for a change, June is introduced to Donalda and Senga, whose little leather business offers a lot more than designer clothes. Products of the Glasgow slums, Donalda and Senga have children, but the men they've lived with have never been all that satisfying. And then there is Harry Shepherd, a wealthy woman, related to royalty, whose family sent her off (at the age of five) to a very permissive boarding school in England when they discovered that her nanny had been beating her. But the nanny was the only person poor Harry had loved, and it is a long while before Harry finds a successor. It is also at this school that the reclusive Harry began to create the sculptures that were to make her famous and even richerrich enough to bankroll a leather shop to cater to all her desires, however extravagant or bizarre. Brought together at the end, the four women indulge in some kinky lesbian sex, and eachin her own wayfinds a degree of fulfillment. Gray, a lively and intelligent writer, uses the somewhat contrived plot as an excuse to get in a great many telling digs at contemporary politics, art, education, and society. But the sum, unfortunately, is not equal to the often very good parts.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-58963-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991


FictionTHE ENDS OF OUR TETHERS by Alasdair Gray
by Alasdair Gray
FictionA HISTORY MAKER by Alasdair Gray
by Alasdair Gray
FictionTEN TALES TALL AND TRUE by Alasdair Gray
by Alasdair Gray