WOMEN AND HORSES by Candida Baker


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Australian journalist Baker's first novel tells the tale of 35-year-old Deborah Jefferies's breakdown--but it does so jauntily, as if to keep one giggling through the worst, as Deborah climbs under her desk at the magazine where she works and determines to stay there. A number of things land Deb on the carpet: Dissatisfaction with her job at the ladies' rag Aura, where in order to avoid aggravating the advertisers, the editors remove all references to the cosmetic industry in an animal-cruelty exposÉ she's written; memories of her childhood as the eldest daughter of a profligate English actor and his long-suffering, drunken wife; and, finally, the fact that after numerous abortions, Deb finds herself pregnant--a fact that might please her if only she could figure out who the father is. Could it be her fanatically jealous husband Lewis? Or her lover, the potter with the strong hands, Jay? Meanwhile, as we find out what's up with Deb, the author rehearses a much older story indeed--the one about the Camelot love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot, and that feisty queen Guinevere. Her purpose in doing so is to suggest that what's wrong with Deb is the same thing that tripped up Guin--female disempowerment, which Deb begins to address when she knees her shrink in the groin. From there, the road to sanity runs straight--though, of course, that's more than one can say for Guinevere's fortunes. In the end, Deb's problems just don't amount to much, and the author's foray into myth and Feminism I offers more clichÉ than insight. Good-natured, then, but strictly old hat--at least in this hemisphere.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's