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Auto da Fay: A Memoir Hardcover – May 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802117503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802117502
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,709,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who think Weldon's provocatively clever fiction (The Bulgari Connection; Wicked Women; etc.) is also highly improbable need only pick up this frank, irreverent memoir to discover her own life has been far more strange and dramatic than any novel could credibly convey. All the characteristics of Weldon's fiction-stinging wit, jaunty prose, memorable bon mots-are present in this kaleidoscopic peregrination through six decades of picaresque adventures. The racy narrative begins with older generations of Weldon's family and continues with Weldon, her mother and her sister. Her family history on both sides is eccentric and troubled. Fay was christened Franklin when she was born in 1931 in England, where her mother had fled temporarily, leaving her adulterous husband in New Zealand. Eventually she took Fay and her older sister back to Christchurch, but the reconciliation didn't work, and they returned to England for Fay's secondary and college education. She was always drawn to the wrong men, risky behavior, chronic impecuniousness and even promiscuity. In addition to being routinely victimized by men, the women in Weldon's family were susceptible to seeing ghosts and succumbing to emotional breakdowns. How Weldon made her way as a poor unwed mother (in the 1950s, she lived in a house without heat, water or an indoor bathroom) through several bizarre relationships into a job as an advertising copywriter, is a riveting story; the book closes as she's beginning a career as a TV scriptwriter. This memoir will be read by some for the real "dirt" on a popular novelist, but it will last longer as a reflection of a time when feminism had not yet released women from the careless perfidy of feckless men.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Weldon's thoroughly absorbing autobiography primarily focuses on her peripatetic childhood and difficult years of single parenthood, concluding in the 1960s with her second marriage and the beginning of her writing career. Born in 1931, she spent her childhood in New Zealand, raised by her resourceful mother after her parents divorced. Relocating to England after World War II, her mother worked as a servant, an experience that provided the basis for Weldon's television script for Upstairs, Downstairs. Despite their poverty-stricken circumstances, Weldon's family had been at the center of literary soirees attended by the likes of H. G. Wells, and her grandmother's dismissive accounts of some of London's leading authors are hilarious ("Ezra Pound would come round when he was drunk and play her piano with his nose. She took it personally"). When Weldon became pregnant and decided to remain single, she struggled to support her son by working in advertising. When that proved too difficult, she married for convenience, a disastrous experience that she describes in the third person. Filled with warmth, wit, and her trademark irreverence, Weldon's memoir is a vivid and engaging account of a brave and brainy "lost girl" who found her way. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Fay Weldon is the author of twenty-four novels, five short story collections, two children's books, four works of nonfiction, several plays, and now AUTO DA FAY, a memoir. This delightful autobiography is imbued with the same audaciousness and perspicacity as is her other works. As a woman of deep insights she highlights the key, transcendent events of her life. On page one, titled "Pre-name", she writes, "I long for a day of judgment when the plot lines of our lives will be neatly tied, and all puzzles explained, and the meaning of events made clear. We take to fiction ... because no such thing is going to happen, and at least on the printed page we can observe beginnings, middles and ends, and can find out where morality resides." She declares that, while life moves into entropy, each individual does the best with the hand s/he is dealt.
Weldon was born in 1931 and raised in a rural New Zealand town called Napier. She was the daughter of a troubled but creative mother who, along with Fay and her sister Jane, was abandoned by Fay's father, a selfish, philandering doctor named Frank Birkinshaw. The girls attended a private parochial school and, early on, Fay displayed her dislike for authority and disdain for pomposity. "Mother Teresa was nice and motherly, and would hug you and give you sticky treats: all the others ... ruled by sarcasm and violence. I liked their names, but that was about all."
When the sisters wanted to baptize the girls, Fay's mother wouldn't allow it. She describes her parents as "... freethinkers, rationalists - humanists" and, while Jane had been christened as a Protestant, Fay had not even had that benediction to her name. This state of her soul meant that Fay was excluded from much at school and learned to enjoy her own company.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Gidley Wheeler on January 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Auto Da Fay is about as good as autobiography gets. Fay Weldon has a wonderful zest for life and a larger than life-size personality that comes through on every page. It's the sort of book that cheers you up and restores your faith in human nature.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia C. Andrews on February 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fay Weldon is a favorite author of mine, and I liked learning about her life which consisted mainly of adventures in poverty from childhood in New Zealand on. The early years are well detailed. As an adult writer though she seemed to vaguely morph from being an impecunious beginner to a big success with specifics airbrushed over. Would be a re-read.
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