Said voice comes courtesy of Weldon's conjectured sister, Frances, eighty-something in a near-future London. It's so nice to have an elderly female narrator, you know? And so rare. Frances is so much the kind of old lady I aspire to being, the kind one might admiringly refer to as a "battleaxe": cranky, funny, bawdy, and far more realistic than her descendants about the future ("When people complain that I am cynical, I say, but I am not cynical, I am just old, I know what is going to happen next"). She is a writer, or once was--she's outlived her heyday and spent her fortune, and the bailiffs are at the door of her title-street home--and the novel is a kind of memoir, full of flashbacks and imagined scenes. Two favorite passages, witty and wise, which shall have to stand in for many more:
- "I hesitate to say this of this alleged love of my life, but show him a female and he'd try to fuck up her mind."
- "Many a lady writer feels that . . . she will be unveiled any minute as an impostor. That the review will one day appear: 'Why have we been taking this writer so seriously? She can't write for toffee.' And that will be that. It is not a worry that plagues men. On the whole, women who get bad reviews crawl under the blankets and hide; men writers roar and go round and beat up the critic, or at least think about it."
*I'm celebrating(?) Dystopia December on my blog--as could-be-worse counterpoint to holiday retail in Grand Central Terminal.