WISE CHILDREN by Angela Carter

WISE CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A bawdy tale of parenthood told by a typical Carter (Saints and Sinners, 1986) heroine: witty, brash, and a sucker for farce who gives a story a good feminist spin. The septuagenarian Chance sisters, identical twins Dora and Nora, may like all wise children know their father, though the paternity has never been acknowledged, but they also learn here that after all these years they can't be too certain about their mother. Already busy on her memoirs, Dora begins her tale--told with all the innuendos and humor of the vaudeville comedians she once knew--on the day the sisters are invited to attend the hundredth birthday celebration of their father, the great Shakespearean actor Sir Melchior Hazard. The family bloodlines, Dora tells, were never all that clear: it has long been believed that a young lead--rather than aging grandfather Hazard, married to a much younger actress--was the real father of Sir Melchior and his twin, the lovable and rich Perry. It's also been believed that the eponymously named Chance sisters were the result of a liaison between their father and a young woman who died conveniently at their birth. Raised by the mysterious Mrs. Chance, the beloved ``Granny,'' the talented twins were soon dancing and acting in variety shows, having affairs with the great and not-so-great and- -the climax of their careers--making a movie in Hollywood, where Dora had an affair with a writer, whose resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald is quite intended. In between, Uncle Perry came bearing gifts; they met their father's three wives, and watched from the sidelines the goings-on of their half-siblings, whose own paternity is not all that clear either. An amusing romp through theatrical history that tries to answer but doesn't quite--the jokiness is ultimately too much and out of place--a serious question: What defines the true parent- -blood or the actual rearing? Accessible but thin.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-374-29133-0
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1991




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