Wickedly irreverent comedy underscores the essential poignancy of British writer White's new novel (after Rich Deceiver ). On Christmas Eve in their north London home, the five Townsend children wait for the magic spirit of the holiday to arrive. Instead, their mother Caroline, an ex-actress who has just been dumped by her current lover, reels drunkenly into the house. She lashes out viciously and destructively at the children, then passes out under the Christmas tree. Twelve-year-old Vanessa declares that Caroline is out of control and must be locked in the sauna downstairs. How long will she stay there? Until she's a proper mother, the children decide. Sobering up in the sauna, Caroline realizes she must change her life. In the meantime, the children pretend that everything is normal: Camilla imitates Mother on the telephone; Vanessa gets money from the bank's autoteller. TV personality Robin Townsend is easily convinced that his children are fine; his new wife Suzie doesn't want them around anyway. White's deftly written tale grips the reader with its plentiful insights into fears of rejection, the pain of unfulfilled lives and unrequited love. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1993 Release date: 12/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.