cover image What Makes Women Happy

What Makes Women Happy

Fay Weldon, . . Chicago Review, $18.95 (229pp) ISBN 978-1-55652-681-7

According to prolific novelist and playwright Weldon, women's sources of happiness are sex, food, friends, family, shopping and chocolate—in that order. Women can be "wonderfully" happy, but only for 10 minutes because after that, they are beset by anxiety and guilt (re chocolate: "My God, did I actually eat all that?"). Other failed attempts at witty, self-help advice: women should not be upset by men's fondness for porn because "men are creatures of the cave" and porn "just helps a man get through the day." Falling down some kind of rabbit hole that seems to have landed her in the 1950s, Weldon encourages women to fake orgasms because faking is "kind to male partners of the new man kind," who otherwise might become too anxious to perform. Her counsel to infertile women is downright dangerous: before pursuing grueling fertility treatments, first try getting pregnant from random sex with a stranger and then pass off his baby as your husband's. Famous as a novelist for clever feminist observations about the war between the sexes, Weldon (She May Not Leave ) caused controversy in the U.K., where this latest effort was perceived as reactionary. Americans will surely find Weldon pathetically out of touch with her core readership with this mishmash of pointless parables and banal advice that won't make anyone happy. (Apr.)