Who Was Oswald Fish?

A. N. Wilson, Author Penguin Books $6.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-14-006212-0
Madcap London entrepreneur Fanny Williams, who has just purchased St. Aidan's church to use as a warehouse, begins a torrid affair with unhappily married Fred Jobling, who, as a city-council solicitor, should be convincing Fanny to relinquish St. Aidan's so the council can raze the church and erect a community center. Wilson (Love Unknown) also introduces the lusty Oswald Fish, mediocre 19th century architect, designer of St. Aidan's and the link between all the players in this well-packed farce. Though the long-dead Oswald speaks only through diaries, he's very much a presence. Oswald, it turns out, is Fanny's great-grandfather, and Oswald's lover, Frances, is Fred's great-grandmother. Wilson's characterizations are razor-sharp, and his pointed cynicism extends to the chilling denouement when the pranks of Fanny's precocious yet repulsive nine-year-old twins Pandora and Marmaduke cause a suicide and a murder. In keeping with the senseless ruin, destruction also comes to Fanny's cherished St. Aidan's. Wilson skillfully manages to ridicule his characters while retaining warmth for them, and his sparkling, hilarious soap opera is also a deeply ironic and disturbing comment on the infinite capacity for deception and ignorance in love relationships. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Hardcover - 313 pages - 978-0-436-57606-5
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