Kirkus Star


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Weldon's acidulous merriment, fueled by a generous jeroboam of 100-proof feminism and clicking with admonishing commentary, buckets into yet another tale about hapless women and genially awful men--the latter to get an all-too-slight comeuppance, while the women, briefly, see the light of liberation. The whole crowd, Weldon implies, is not too swift. Harry and Natalie Harris, dwelling in a ""dream cottage"" with two not-too-attractive preadolescent children, are a serenely dull couple. One day, Harry runs off with a local beauty queen--never to return; and Natalie, pretty as a Chaplin heroine ""with that same blank look of sexy idiocy,"" will soon have no money, house, or even food. Like a toy doll weighted at the bottom, Natalie the Passive seems determined to stay down. Then there's the combined effect of misleading information, insult, dismissal, etc. from such as: ex-lover Arthur the antique-dealer (with whom Natalie had been having a tidy affair); Angus the real-estate broker, who will offer mistress-hood; a bank manager; police-school staff; welfare department, etc. In spite of the fact that Natalie had once committed a sin of the rich--""splashing the poor""--and with her car had splashed welfare mother Sonia (forced to walk since deserted by her excrescence of a husband), Sonia takes in Natalie. There are other miserable wives-about-town, as well as a beauteous cleaning girl, who will pay a spectacular price for the women's grand liberating gesture during a carnival parade. While Natalie and various women gloomily survey their marriages, an enterprising group, including Arthur and Angus, has set up, for deprived British farmers, a clandestine warehouse of forbidden chemicals--a venture later happily closed but now housing an honest gardenstore with plants of extraordinary size but nary a butterfly. Much less strenuous than Weldon's The Hearts and Lives of Men (p. 85), but it's galloping, good, mean fun, kept in check by those Weldon homiletic zingers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Viking