cover image The Heart of the Country

The Heart of the Country

Fay Weldon. Viking Books, $17.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81875-4

The strikingly inventive British author ( The Shrapnel Academy , The Life and Loves of a She-Devil ) delivers another biting satire on men's inhumanity to women. Weldon sets the scene in a small town where upper-class Natalie is left suddenly penniless after her husband scarpers with his secretary. Sonia, a woman similarly deserted but accustomed to coping with draconian welfare officials, gives Natalie and her children shelter as well as priceless advice. As local males lust for Natalie's body (and the posh house they assume will come with it), Sonia plans a twist on the annual town carnival, a demonstration hinted at throughout the narrative, and occuring at the novel's horrifying conclusion. This strong story about damaged lives is memorable as well for the lusty humor that makes all Weldon's books irresistible. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club alternates. (November)