Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The sugar mother (Jolley)

I pulled The sugar mother from my Awesome Books loot quite early on as my friend Claire commented that the author was on her radar; that was enough for me to choose it over another, but in practice it took me two goes before I could get through what I found to be a rather weird little book.

It is about a middle-aged university professor, Edwin Page, whose wife, Cecilia has gone abroad for a year on a research sabbatical. Early on, his next-door neighbour and her daughter Leila, lock themselves out of their house, and Page comes to their assistance. They quickly latch onto him and he invites them to move in. Mrs Botts, the mother, then suggests that Edwin should use Leila as a "sugar mother" (i.e. surrogate mother), and Leila becomes pregnant, although it is not obvious whether or not the baby belongs to Edwin. I found this all really difficult to believe in - does this sort of thing really go on? Do I just live in a sheltered existence?! The story isn't exactly resolved either, Cecilia has not returned and we are left wondering what will happen when she does.

This has just been published once by Virago with a modern cover, although it does also have a bright green spine.

One of Jolley's other novels, The newspaper on Claremount Street, is also a VMC.

1 comment:

  1. I'm rather intrigued by Elizabeth Jolley (one of her short stories is collected in Wayward Girls and Wicked Women); I have one of her other novels, The Well.