2013: Four by Fay Weldon

Having exhausted my library's supply of Elinor Lippman, I tried to find another similar writer.  I did so by looking at the blurbs on the back of the most recent Lippman (that would be The View From Penthouse B), and one of the blurbs was by Fay Weldon.  So off to the W's I travelled.  And I quite enjoyed what I found.  Let me clarify - Weldon is similar in that she is also a woman writing about regular life - women and families and relationships and such.  And that I enjoyed reading her books too.  But really, they are like apples and oranges - well, maybe apples and pears.  Eleanor Lippman is an American, writing warmly humorous tales of women in transition - they are almost zaftig in a way.  Weldon is British, and while her stuff is also very funny, it's in that acidic British way.  So, both are fun to read, and both are lady writers, but that's where the similarity ends.  But both ably fulfilled my requirement of getting my mind off my own troubles, so I am indebted to both ladies.

The Spa (possibly also known as The Spa Decameron - I think the American publisher rewrites the titles) is the story of a bunch of women who find themselves spending Christmas at a luxury spa.  As the spa starts to crumble around them the ladies bond by telling tales of their lives.  Knowing that the book is supposed to be a take off on the Decameron makes it make more sense - otherwise it just sort of read like a collection of random stories told to a strange collective of women.  But the stories are good - from sex change operations to professional trophy wives to more standard tales of heartbreak, and I quite enjoyed the book.

She May Not Leave is about every mother's worst nightmare - she hires an au pair to come look after her baby, and soon, the house is running perfectly, the baby is happy, her husband is happy but is there still a place for her in the house? Is Hattie crazy to worry - or crazy to let Agnieska into her home? The novel ends with a perfectly Weldonian twist - but the whole time I was reading it, I was glad that our nanny is a 60 year old married Filipina, rather than a lucious Eastern European hottie.  

Big Girls Don't Cry (aka Big Women)

"Slap, slap, slurp: a hollow, juicy sound."

This is the story of the feminist movement as seen through four women who found a feminist publishing house in the early 1970's.  We follow them through the upheavals in their lives, and the changes in society until just about the present day.  It's a little heavy on the feminism jargon, and much more political than the other books by her that I've read, but I enjoyed the characters enough to give that stuff a pass.

Habits of the House

"In late October of the year 1899 a tall, thin, nervy young man ran up the broad stone steps that led to No. 17 Belgrave Square."

This was my favorite of the bunch.  Set in Edwardian times, it's a Trollopian type novel about a wealthy title family that is in desperate need of cash, and what is and is not willing to do to get the money it needs.  It's fun, because it's all Victorian scheming and morality, but with modern sex thrown in. And I've just realized it's the first of a trilogy, so I need to go out and get the other two!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017