HOT WATER MAN by Deborah Moggach

HOT WATER MAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this good-natured go at naive Westerners in modern Pakistan, Moggach skips some random pebbles along cross-cultural, socio-sexual currents--with the misadventures of a young British couple and one upright, Baptist-reared, middle-aged American. The Britishers are Donald Manley, sales manager for Cameron Chemicals in Karachi (who harbors old-Colonial feelings), and his frizzy-haired, jean-clad wife Christine--who's attracted to women's lib and is now determined to separate herself from any trace of memsahib-hood. Thus, attempting to meld with the natives, Christine wanders, unescorted, into a crowded bazaar--an uncomfortable over-exposure in a Moslem country; she dismays the house servant by blundering out of her sphere; she triumphantly arranges birth-control methods for a woman who's already happily pregnant (and expects information on how to produce a boy); she models for a photographer, winding up on a billboard advertising ""Pakistan's First Tampon."" And she makes friends with a kind Pakistani businessman--who, after they visit a fertility shrine in disorienting heat, becomes more than a friend. (So, when a pregnancy soon follows, is it Pakistan's or England's?) Meanwhile, we also meet Duke Hanson, whose tiny wife is home in the US having a hysterectomy, attended by her three grown sons: he's a huge, simple man who's soon lightning-struck by an unaccountable love/lust for beautiful, witty, intelligent Shamime (whose Minister uncle has the final say on Duke's tourist-compound project for Karachi). And, while Duke and Christine are shivering through their secret guilts, Donald makes the acquaintance of a dear old eccentric Englishwoman, who excavates some 50-year-old gossip concerning Donald's colonial Grandad. With a happy ending for the English and a grief-stricken one for Donald and Shamime--gentle satire, often diverting but too obvious in its Message about the lingering racism of intrusive, neocolonial do-gooders.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow