cover image So Very English

So Very English

Mario Vargas Llosa, Fay Weldon, Susan Daitch. Serpent's Tail, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-85242-179-3

Rowe's lively collection of 33 stories and poems on English life is often humorous, usually engrossing and altogether merciless. Kathy Lette's monologue presents a supremely bitchy London career woman who meets her match and is neatly skewered over the tea table at a Soho Literary Club. Mario Vargas Llosa's story recounts the trials of sharing an Earls Court flat with innumerable mice (all named Oscar) that have as their ally an antiquated set of fumigation laws. Imagining a fictional visitor to an art exhibition called ``Treasure Houses of Great Britain,'' Lynne Tillman finds that with their multiple marriages and paranoia, members of the British aristocracy are rather similar to Alexis and the rest of the crew from Dynasty . Nicole Ward Jouve follows a Frenchwoman who marries an Englishman and vainly searches their rural community for the real-life models for ``the warm Tullivers . . . and Tesses and Mellors''; but the woman learns that even after spending years making a home and raising children in England, she will never quite be ``one of us''--even to her nearest and dearest. Rowe is the editor of Sex and the City. (Jan.)