Guppies for Tea

Marika Cobbold, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-312-10992-9
British writer Cobbold's debut novel, which introduces three generations of women, each ineffectual in her own way, proves much sadder than it is droll. It's been decided that Selma Merryman, recently widowed and showing unmistakable signs of senility, must leave her lovely Devon estate and become a resident of a retirement home. Selma's daughter, Dagmar, a compulsive hand-washer horrified by anything remotely unsanitary, including her now incontinent mother, considers the home a fine solution. But Selma's 31-year-old granddaughter, Amelia, determines to liberate Selma from the community of pathetic residents and authoritarian nurses. (The title comes from these caretakers' unappetizing tendency to serve fish as a snack, and an incident in which a nurse disposes of sick guppies by boiling them.) Cobbold effectively conveys the poignance and pain of seeing a once-vibrant individual confined in a loveless environment. Her dark humor, however, which focuses on Amelia's lack of self-confidence (her philandering husband has just demanded a divorce), patronizing doctors and Dagmar's fear of germs, gives the impression that lone women can't cope calmly with adversity. Selma's forgetfulness and weakness lead to crises on her trips away from the home, and although Amelia averts each disaster, it's with ample hysteria. Though a bestseller in Britain, where it was nominated for the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, this tale of one woman's empathy, her mother's apathy and her grandmother's decline may not be Americans' cup of tea. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-7862-0385-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-6473-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4088-2183-1
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.