ALL YOU NEED by Elaine Feinstein


Email this review


A breathless but inconclusive whirl through Thatcher's England, by acclaimed British writer and poet Feinstein (Mother's Girl, The Shadow Master). When husband Brian, accused of fraud, is sent to jail, poor Nell is not only stunned by the news--she seems to have lived the most self-absorbed of lives--but must also look for a home and a job to support her and teen-age daughter Becky. And 15 years of suburban isolation have ill-prepared Nell for the realities of 1980's London when she and Becky move there. Though old college chums from Cambridge try to help, they are more busy promoting themselves and their causes. Nell first works for a radical-feminist art group, then joins the BBC, and--despite a little guilt--moves on to work with media figure Theo, who becomes both her lover and boss. It's all very stimulating, and Nell feels appropriately good about her personal growth, but even Nell has occasionally to take notice of others. Daughter Becky, unhappy, attempts suicide, and Nell learns that husband Brian was probably framed by a drug-dealing tycoon of her acquaintance. Cousin Michael, despised for being a man of commonsense, turns out to be not only helpful in getting Brian released, but also to Nell's relief still appreciates the old pre-Thatcher values. Though glad to see Brian free, Nell is not so sure about getting back with him yet--and she's just begun to write poetry again after a 15-year hiatus. She may have all she needs--at least for the time being. Peopled with self-serving yuppies, writers and artists on the make, and a coterie of characters who are little more than mouthpieces for opinions, Feinstein's scattershot picture of contemporary Britain says nothing new, and the brave-woman-in-midlife-overcoming-adversity theme is equally stale. Disappointing.

ISBN: 670-83799-7
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online: