cover image MANTRAPPED


Fay Weldon, . . Grove, $24 (267pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1787-8

A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred review .

MANTRAPPED Fay Weldon . Grove , $24 (320p) ISBN 0-8021-1787-2

After many novels, screenplays, essays and an acclaimed memoir, Auto da Fay , Weldon now adds "reality novel" to her repertoire. Presented as a continuation of Auto da Fay , the book is a curious hybrid: something Weldon calls "novel and autobiography side by side, leaping from one to the other, but related." Its fictional protagonist is 44-year-old Trisha, who won the lottery, spent her fortune and is now relegated to niggling London poverty. Things take a turn for the worse when her soul exchanges bodies with that of young, handsome Peter. Now Doralee, Peter's life partner, is left to sort out an impossible situation, bemoaning the fact that there's no support group "for the transfer of your partner's being into someone else's shoddy, badly-looked-after body." These episodes are vintage Weldon: satirical, hyper-realistic and punctuated by biting truths. The autobiographical sections, interleaved with Trisha's story, are occasionally retreads of material from the previous volume, but mostly recount Weldon's further adventures as she juggles family and career. Weldon reveals the reality of her life behind her fiction, proving that "nearly everything you write about, you realize one day, has its roots somewhere in the past." Consider this the ultimate version of life and art imitating one another. Agent, Carlisle & Company. (Dec.)

Forecast: Though fans of Weldon will be pleased, turning newcomers and fiction/memoir traditionalists on to this book may take more cajoling.