Second Fiddle

Mary Wesley, Author Viking Books $18.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-670-82693-3
Septuagenarian Wesley continues to produce lively, satiric sexual comedies, although her latest effort has a somewhat darker tone than The Vacillations of Poppy Carew and Not That Sort of Girl , some of whose characters also turn up here. Having failed his accountancy exams, and now determined to be a novelist, 23-year-old Claud Bannister moves in with his mother, much to her dismay, since she savors the freedom of her empty nest. Claud is taken up by 40-ish Laura Thornby, who is beautiful, independent, brazenly manipulative and eager to be Claud's inspiration and muse. Laura's mother and her uncle are identical twins known in the small community for their bitter tongues and eccentric behavior, and it is on account of a dark secret pertaining to these relatives that Laura has resolutely shunned marriage and children, and heretofore indulged only in short affairs. Under Laura's firm hand, and encouraged by her frequent visits to his bed, Claud finds his metier and produces a creditable book--although a crusher lies in store for him. Laura, meanwhile, realizes to her surprise that this time her ``emotionally parsimonious'' heart has been engaged. Wesley's mordantly humorous take on upper-middle-class British life has a sharp and entertaining edge. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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