THE FANCY DRESS PARTY by Alberta Moravia


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A complete departure from his earlier work, not only in substance but in style. And for this reader, The Fancy Dress Party missed fire. Designed as a satirical romance, with an element of mystery, it emerges as a spoof on both romance and mystery, with deliberate entanglements within entanglements, and some rather pointed irony directed against fascism and communism in equal measure. The involvements concern a General, Tereso Arango (a small scale Mussolini in an unnamed Latin country); Fausta, beautiful light-o-love, who sports an official lover, while giving herself to grooms, caddie masters, etc. on the side; Sebastian, whom Fausta has used and cast aside as less profitable than the General might be; the Duchess, who had secured the General with Fausta as bait, for a house-party; and a number of officials who are employed to stage a fake attack on the General's life- and who in turn use their stooges as operators, pretending the plot is a real one. At every level, the plots go awry- and the story winds up, if one can consider it a climax, with Fausta and the man who killed her both dead -- the General ready to fire his chief of police -- and everyone thoroughly disillusioned with everyone else. For my money it was too bad the bombs weren't real and the whole household disposed of. Bedroom scenes and rolls in the hay embroider the phoney politics. Definitely not for Public Libraries.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Young