Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: Rhode Island Blues

A Fair Trade Book 

Title: Rhode Island Blues

Author: Fay Weldon

Date: 2000

Publisher: Harper Collins (UK), Atlantic Monthly(US)

ISBN: 0-87113-775-5

Length: 325 pages

Quote: “I m eighty-five...If people don’t like what they hear they can always dismiss it as dementia.”

Grandmothers who were eighty-five in 2000 grew up hearing that women were either Good Girls or Bad Girls. By and large, the ones who lived to become grandmothers were Good Girls. Felicity, the outrageous heroine of Rhode Island Blues, was a Bad Girl...and when she moves into an assisted living place, her grandchildren, who hadn’t even known about each other before, will discover that she still is one.

It’s possible that this whole book might have been Weldon’s reflection on the thought that she’s no spring chicken. There are no present-time chickens in the story, although chickens play a cameo role in Felicity’s distant past and her decision to move to Rhode Island in the first place. There are some disturbing reflections on the plight of rich senior citizens, as unsettling, yet in Weldon’s hands as comical, as the handsome blue fowl posed against a red sky on the dust jacket of the book.

If I'd been the publisher, this book would have a different cover. I'm disappointed that the book does not, in fact, feature Rhode Island Red chickens, which are the type that appear in that color-tweaked, courtesy of Wikipedia, is what they really look like. 

Rhode Island Red cock, cropped.jpg

Felicity, whose name is meant to be ironic, definitely does not want to doze off into the twilight zone at eighty-five (for one thing she’s only eighty-three; she likes round numbers). She wants her life to be a romantic comedy, “One more time”...and it is. She finds a man, only twelve years younger than she is, who is still interested in sex, and she wants to marry him, however many obstacles her trashy grandson and the loathsome head nurse put in her way. The story being a romantic comedy, readers will laugh out loud a few times, and Felicity’s nicest granddaughter will learn things that will help her become even nicer.

Well, it's Fay Weldon, so you knew you could expect mordant but not depressing laughs on every page and an interesting, not altogether predictable ending. Weldon has written so many excellent novels in this category that public libraries have actually been thinning them off the shelves, and she doesn't seem to intend to stop any time soon.

Other sources may offer this book cheaper, but if you buy it from this web site, for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, we send $1 to Weldon or a charity of her choice. You could fit four books of this size into a package for $25 (or $26) and, if they were, e.g., Down Among the Women, Life and Loves of a She-Devil, and The Cloning of Joanna May, we'd send $4 to Weldon or her charity. You could also mix books by different authors, and if they're Fair Trade Books we'll send $1 to each of those authors or charities.