cover image Splitting


Fay Weldon. Atlantic Monthly Press, $21 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-599-5

Divorce is one kind of split; adding an alternate personality is another. Angelica Rice experiences both sorts in this highly improper sendup of proper English society as Weldon (The Life and Loves of a She-Devil) inventively tweaks stereotypical doting wives, vengeful-goddess types, efficient office workers, saucy sexpots and--per usual--men, by giving Angelica distinct personalities corresponding to each. As a young woman, Angelica isn't entirely neurotic; after a career as a 17-year-old pop star (of ``Kinky Virgin'' song fame), she weds country gentleman Sir Edwin Rice. Although her well-bred neighbors conduct unseemly affairs in classic comedy-of-manners fashion, Angelica remains loyal to Sir Edwin and styles herself as the prim ``Lady Rice.'' But when, in her 30s, her 16-year marriage founders, Lady Rice experiences the reemergence of her earthy ``Angelica'' self, as well as the arrival of the pragmatic ``Jelly White.'' Lady Rice is perfectly appalled when a lusty fourth identity seduces her chauffeur, and then a fifth self--a tough guy named ``Ajax''--threatens to thrash Sir Edwin. Angelica, we learn, is not so much split as ``perforated''--her personalities can cooperate with or challenge each other's actions. Meanwhile, Weldon again proves herself one of a kind, a smart satirist whose playful exploration of psychology reveals society's fault lines and fractures. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour; rights: Ed Victor Ltd. (June)