By Fay Weldon
(Grove Press, Hardcover, 9780802118646, 336pp.)
Publication Date: February 2008
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Fay Weldon is renowned for her biting humor and devilish prose. In her latest novel, The Spa , Weldon offers a glimpse of the despairs and dalliances of a set of high-powered women who have burned paths throughand sometimes been burned bytheir worlds and the men in them. It is the week between Christmas and New Year’s and ten high-achieving ladies are gathered at the expensive Castle Spa. They lounge in the Jacuzzi, sipping champagne, and telling each other the story of their lives, starting with the trophy wife’s tale of her spell in a Greek prison; the brain surgeon’s tale of twins and mistaken identity; the judge’s tale of a sex change that allowed him to experience pleasures from both male and female perspectives. The manicurist, the public speaker, the journalist, the company director, the ex-vicar’s wife, and the screenwriter all share their stories, ending with the stepmother’s tale, a reversal of Cinderella’s fate, with the stepmother as the victim. Sparkling, witty, always sharp-tongued, and occasionally libidinous, The Spa is a darkly funny sketch of a group of women who, despite prejudice, imprisonment, domestic catastrophes, and romantic debacles, have risen to the top of their respective worlds.