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A darkly amusing little tale, stippled with Weldon-like acidulous satiric commentary, about a most unusual revenge--one requiring the delicacy and care of a very patient cat at a mousehole. A TV repairman, Benedict Ashe, lives with his adored mother, jaunty 64-year-old Bet, in a crumbling neighborhood in northern England. Nursemaid, performer, and provider for his nice little mother, Benedict cannot imagine life without her--now, however, Bet is ill. Only a removal to Australia, where her married daughter lives, can save her, it seems, so Ben must sell the house--but first he must evict the tenant: teacher Marguerite--30-ish, with a maddening boss and an uneven sex life--who drives a Triumph, has hundreds of shoes, wears ethnic beads--and keeps a diary. Marguerite is very annoyed that Ben has asked her to move and says no. When Bet dies, then, Ben reads in Marguerite's diary: ""the Old Dear has died today. . .at last the harassment can stop. . .Benedict seems to be even more aggressive than usual. . .perhaps that is how working-class people react to grief?"" Marguerite has also cried out in her diary for a strong sort of man like, say, Heathcliff. Ben does his research then with a video of Wuthering Heights, and his revenge--encompassing a hilarious sendup of a working-class courtship and sex, an interlude of comradeship with Marguerite's born-again mother, and a birth--is a masterpiece (although there is a nervous moment when Ben fears that Marguerite may turn out to be a ""wonderful person""). An inventive and entertaining arm-twisting of pretension in the strata of England's class wars--and some of the kookier outposts of filial love and sexual botherments.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's