JUMPING THE QUEUE NOT THAT SORT OF GIRL THE VACILLATIONS OF POPPY CAREW by Mary Wesley

JUMPING THE QUEUE NOT THAT SORT OF GIRL THE VACILLATIONS OF POPPY CAREW

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Relatively unknown here, this English author (Harnessing Peacocks, 1986, was the second of her novels to be published here) is about to make a welcome reentry with Not That Sort of Girl and paperback editions of Jumping the Queue and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, all originally published in England. Deliciously unwholesome delights, these novels feature knotty/naughty women, unnervingly caustic about boring men, the feckless and fat-headed. But they're solidly on the side of roaring passion--even when popping with problems--and the honest dignity and comfort of animals, the ""hooks that tie us to life."" Although Jumping the Queue is more somber than the others, all share a testy, satiric undertone, focusing on the best and worst of more or less contemporary, upper-middle-class life in London and surrounds. Busy with itchy characters and marvelous talk and irresistible. In Jumping the Queue, 50-ish Matilda (""slightly runaway chin, sensual mouth"") does a bang-up job of preparing on ocean suicide. She has no attachment--except to Gus the gander, and she's betrayed him as she betrayed dead husband Tom--and her children don't want her. Also adrift is ""the Matracide,"" a hunted young man who is famous for having killed his mother with a tea tray. They join forces; but will Matilda find suicide was a good idea after all? In Not That Kind of Girl, recently widowed Rose, married 50 years to stolid Ned (just where did she put his ashes?), reviews her life and her decision to marry Ned, the Good and Kind (in reality: callous, thick, and not kind). Why did she marry him when there was Mylo Cooper, her lover of 50 years? Yet she was happy during WW II at Ned's estate, happy without both men. Throughout, a probably incestuous brother and sister say and do wicked things. And the ending? Violins. And in The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, we read about how Poppy's Dad died laughing--literally--when Poppy told him that handsome Edmund had left her. Poppy, eager to fulfill Dad's last request, contacts ""Furnival's Fun Funerals,"" thereby meeting: boss Fergus; sour Mary (with infant); Victor, the failed novelist who probably tried to drown his wife; Willy Guthrie, the pig farmer; etc. In the end, there's a horrid trip to Africa, and at one point four men have dibs on Poppy--but it all sorts out, two by two. Great fun.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Viking/Penquin