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.
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 WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved