The Stepmother's Diary, By Fay Weldon

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The Independent Culture

In her latest novel Fay Weldon, a writer who never sounds less than contemporary, turns her brainy gaze on the muddle of modern family life. The diary of the title belongs to Sappho, a young playwright married to a widower 19 years her senior, and stepmother to his two children.

Determined to make the marriage work, she entrusts a bag of diaires to her mother, Emily - a Freudian analyst who can't resist a peek. Using the diaries as her starting point, Weldon constructs a funny, frank account of family relationships.

While mother and daughter have very different spins on events, both would concur that dreadful things happen "to the nicest people, and at the hands of others who believe that they too are perfectly sane and nice." This novel makes no bones about why second marriages might be best avoided.

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