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Fay and fortuneAuto da FayFay WeldonFlamingo 1599 pp366When Fay Weldon leaves St Andrews with an MA in economics and psychology she takes her scarlet university gown with her it comes in useful later she says as a Father Christmas outfit before moths claim it The scarlet gown is perfect Weldon garb - it sums up the teasing personality behind her autobiography Auto da Fay How much of what she writes is serious-minded and educated - how much a festive charadeThe delight of Fay Weldon is that one can seldom be absolutely sure if she is serious She has always been anarchically clever funny fearless a one-woman-show As a child she was the Cheerful Person in her family When her sister took up with an unsuitable man her mother leant on Fay To be cheerful was my accepted role around this time and come to think of it always has been and still is She is full of afterthoughtWeldon doesnt let the reader down any more than she did her mother in this frustrating engrossing lazily entertaining autobiography It is the sort of book stuffed full of things that you hope are made up but fear are true I flinched at her description of the way toads were once used in pregnancy-tests and cannot banish the description of the chef in a hotel where Weldon worked who used to blow his nose into the whipped cream when angryBut Auto da Fay begins before the beginning in the womb in New Zealand When her mother was pregnant with Fay they survived an earthquake might this explain Fays enduring taste for drama Her first short story was set in Pompeii The New Zealand of childhood is sketchily remembered the inspiring cakes seem to have hung on most vividly in the mind the friendships second the landscape third Weldons mother and grandmother were English bohemian literary musical fragile - not obvious candidates for robust antipodean life Her father was
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