WHEN SISTERHOOD WAS IN FLOWER by Florence King

WHEN SISTERHOOD WAS IN FLOWER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

King's adder's-tongue persona, that racy Southern lady who speared the regional WASPs and the good old drones in Wasp and Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, now takes on the anti-male adipose tissue of the women's lib movement--with a few sneak attacks and lots of jolly farce. ""Call me Isabel,"" begins the narrator, a product of Queen Caroline Court House, Virginia. (Isabel's only living relative is Aunt Edna, secretary to Father Chillingsworth, rector of St. Jude the Impossible, who once confused Edna's calendar of female ""troubles"" with the Moveable Feasts.) But it's in Boston, after a Weatherman explosion which demolishes the bombers and the wall of Isabel's apartment, that she is forced to meet Polly Bradshaw, the TV-interviewer of such groups as the ""Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell."" So writer Isabel, weary of Regencies, now decides to cash in on the Movement's book-sales bonanza, teaming up with Polly--who, as heiress to the Old Yankee loony left, is out to force everyone to love everyone else. Furthermore, Polly and Isabel also acquire (by prying her from a cement mixer on a beach) medievalist Gloria; she dresses in draperies, money belt and gentian violet; she carries a lute and a drug habit; she often speaks in Middle English . . . and has composed a madrigal about her favorite topic--the colorful murder of Edward II. Thus, after a fraught journey to California (Polly's unbearable thrift relieved by Gloria's key to ladies' rooms machines), the ""Don't Tread on Me Commune"" is underway, with the addition of: Agnes, whose survivalist husband Boomer thought to keep her in the bomb shelter by beating her with his diving rod; Martha Bailey (""a down home Baptist with a blond Jesus on her calendars and relatives in Folsom Prison""); plus--surprise!--Aunt Edna, gloriously and happily pregnant by handsome Father Chillingsworth. And before it all ends with an assault by Boomer and screaming mayhem (Gloria, with her curling iron, tries to reconstruct the murder of Edward Il), there's Isabel's stint for a porn-book house, a disaster with spreading scrapple, a fine pig named Farnsworth, a birth, a baptism--and exeunt all to Virginia. Snide, snide . . . but funny, funny: an irreverent counterpoint to such soulful Movement fictions as Alix Kates Shulman's Burning Questions.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking