BORN OF WOMAN by Wendy Perriam


Email this review


Marital woes, high-humidity bisexuality, and family secrets--puddled together in a mucky novel about suburban English career people. In marrying warm-hearted Jennifer, artist Lyn Winterton has finally escaped from the loneliness and singleminded ""protection"" of his joyless widowed mother Hester--who lives in her fortress of ""Hernhope"" in the stark landscape of Northumberland. But when Jennifer finally persuades Lyn to visit Hester, she is dead when he arrives--living only in the diaries Jennifer discovers in the basement. In fact, Lyn's calculating half-brother, publisher Matthew, whips the diaries into shape as a wildly successful book, ""Born with the Century""--with editor Jennifer pushed into the limelight as an exemplar of the modern woman, following her mother-in-law's sturdy countrywoman footsteps. But though Jennifer is a media smash, she hates publicity. And meanwhile the Hester diaries are affecting Lyn's already-frail, grungy psyche and his marriage--as warm, sunshiny Jennifer (who reminds Lyn of his long-dead stepmother Susannah) starts turning into more of a pushy Hester type. She trots around promoting the diaries (which Lyn hates to see aired). She rejects him, opting for lesbian love with Matthew's maid Susie--with her gold eyeshadow and scarlet dungarees. Jennifer is strangely drawn ""as if Susie were a flame, and she a drab brown moth""; some flaming erotic heights ensue, while Jennifer also tries sex with a photographer. Then Susie is pregnant. . . but by whom? Next there's the arrival of stern Edward from New Zealand, who turns out to be Hester's long-ago love-child--and who plans to ruin Matthew (who's ruined Edward's political career). And before the fadeout there'll be a birth, a surprise parentage disclosed, and a long snowy night with Lyn and Edward in a marooned auto. Like Perriam's precious, more comic contempo-sex dithers: rather enervating.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's