SPLITTING by Fay Weldon


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A darkly comic portrait of one woman's shattering response to divorce: the latest from an author rightly celebrated for writing witty cautionary tales about the contemporary sexual jungle (Trouble, 1993, etc.). ""It is my belief that we are suffering from a perforated personality,"" says Angelica, lying on her bed at London's Claridge's Hotel, and her other personalities -- Jelly, Angel, and Lady Rice -- all agree. But diagnosis of the problem doesn't necessarily help resolve the situation, which arose when Lady Rice was sued for divorce by her husband, Sir Edwin, whom she still loves. In short, almost terse, chapters that show the disintegration of the lovely and loving Lady Rice, Weldon neatly gores snobbery, class prejudice, and the nastiness of women to other women as she describes just how shattering a marriage's end can be. When Angelica, a former pop-music star, married the impoverished Edwin and became mistress of decrepit Rice Court, she was happy to give her fortune to the devious estate manager, who used it to improve the house and the family's investments. For a while, the couple was happy, and though Lady Rice observed their friends' marriages coming apart, she thought her own secure. Malign forces conspired to end it, however, and she was summarily thrown out of the manor. Using the only credit card she has, Angelica runs up bills at Claridge's while plotting to get back at Edwin -- a scheme both helped and hindered by her multiple personalities. Demure Jelly works as a subversive legal secretary; brazen Angel seduces men, including a musically talented chauffeur; and Lady Rice is too upset to do anything, while Angelica is the voice of common sense. But even modern contemporary fables have happy endings, and so finally a new, whole Angelica emerges with an equally new life and love ahead. An unlikely mix of whimsy, wit, and wise insights that works surprisingly well. Weldon in top form.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0871136368
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly