22/03/2001

Harnessing Peacocks (by Mary Wesley)

I have mixed views about the late Mary Wesley's novels. Her writing is usually good, her plotting is clever, her characters interesting. But there seems to be rather a dark, cynical thread running through them, which I don't find appealing at all, and some of her situations are so bizarre as to feel unrealistic, set as they are in the ordinary world. She also tends to use rather more bad language than I am comfortable with.

'Harnessing Peacocks' is about Hebe, a single mother with a twelve-year-old son. It seems that he is gradually growing apart from her, although it's hardly surprising since she sends him away to an expensive boarding school. She pays for this by being a part-time cook/housekeeper, and also a part-time prostitute, although only with selected people.

This unlikely scenario leads to some lively clashes when me she has known happen to meet. A series of coincidences leads, eventually, to a satisfactory conclusion. On the whole, I thought this an enjoyable book, spoiled mainly be excessive use of swear words.

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