In a sense, this is an extremely representative collection by British feminist/cynic Weldon (see above), for it shows her at her hauntingly subtle best, and sledgehammer worst. Here, she returns to her main theme--the polemical differences between men and women, which at times undercut marriages over decades, at others, explode. Polaris, the title novella (published some years ago in Redbook), is a luscious story about a newly married couple, Meg and Timmy, who set up housekeeping in a Scottish cottage, isolated from the naval base where Timmy's nuclear sub is berthed. When he leaves for his first three-month stint underwater, Meg finds the task of keeping the home fires burning during the brutal Scottish winter daunting, narrowly avoids an affair, and discovers that she's pregnant. Meanwhile, marooned in his high-tech floating bomb, Timmy and the Polaris crew practice gourmet cooking. When they're rejoined, the marriage--along with the world--endures, but only tenuously. Weldon's writing is spendidly polished here, and her tale takes on larger meanings, without sacrificing the reality of the characters and their situation. The 11 other stories in the collection are too pointed: in one, a woefully unliberated wife recounts horrors perpetrated by her Nobelist husband, maintaining all the while that "I'm his wife, he's my husband. We love each other." In other pieces, a woman obsessed with list-making demonstrates how she's sabotaged her marriage, and a child of a broken marriage grows up to become an intent home-breaker herself. In short, then, one Weldon gem, and a great deal of harping.