DARCY'S UTOPIA by Fay Weldon


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Another act of literary terrorism from British satirist and live-wire Weldon (The Cloning of Joanna May, 1989, etc.), only this time far more wide-ranging and rabidly polemic than even before. Weldon's subject now is Eleanor Darcy, the high priestess of Darcian Monetarism, a utopian ideology aimed at saving shabby old Thatcherian England from the ills of inflation by phasing out money altogether. The theory, ostensibly the brainchild of Eleanor's second husband (now in prison because of the chaos that ensued when the economic strategy was implemented for one morning only), really came from Eleanor herself, known in the press as Rasputin's Bride. And Eleanor, being interviewed in this novel by two journalists--trim Valerie, writing for the women's rag Aura, and Hugo, of the higher-toned Independent--has thoughts of a world of topics besides money: namechanging, a practice that will be encouraged in Darcy's utopia ("My advice to everyone is to change their names at once if they're the least unhappy with their lives"); sex, the source of all good in the world; Marxism and Catholicism, both palliatives; elocution and miscegenation, two waves of the future, and much more. Piecing together hints from the evasive Eleanor, Valerie concocts a personal biography for her magazine's readers, revealing that Eleanor, born with a caul and originally named Apricot (after the shade of her mother's nightie), is a bigamist, social-climber, and witch who wrecked the lives of the men who loved her. Hugo concentrates on the theoretical, and on Valerie, who becomes his mistress. During the time they're in contact with Eleanor, the two of them leave their spouses and children and shack up together in a Holiday Inn. Once their pieces are finished, though, the affair collapses--presumably a romantic utopia, given too little time. Nonetheless, Eleanor has changed their lives, and will change others, since Hugo starts a religion dedicated to her. An ideological mine-field, with Weldon-as-Eleanor birthing a wild idea a minute. Still, some shrapnel hits home, for what Weldon seems to be saying is that desperate, possibly lunatic measures are called for if we're to transform a desperately sick world.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1991
ISBN: 670-83645-1
Publisher: Viking
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