"When the maid is mistaken for the mistress it is time for the
mistress to ask the maid to leave."
Agnieszka comes to live with Martyn and Hattie as an au pair. The
family dynamic changes, bit by bit, shifting the daily domestic and
child-rearing responsibilities from Hattie to Agnieszka. Kitty, at
six months of age, adores her new au pair. Hattie, an editor with a
book publisher, looks at Agnieska as a Godsend; Hattie can go back
to work after a six-month leave of absence rather than the
full-year leave she initially requested.
Fay Weldon has woven countless subplots, offering the reader
insight into political and social mores, and the complex
relationships between family members and friends. As the narrator
is Hattie's grandmother, Francis Watt, we see another generation's
views on all of these issues, as well as family history.
Deceit is a quality known by many. It is a quality that Weldon
weaves into her tale, offering the reader brief glimpses of the
truth, while daring you to believe that the truth could be so
devious. Will Martyn and Hattie do anything to keep Agnieszka, even
in the face of the Immigration Service? Agnieszka originally states
that she's from Poland. She is actually from the Ukraine: "two
miles to the west and everything would be different for us."
Hattie's career in book publishing has taken a sudden turn in the
road. A man with Tourette's Syndrome has a book he wants published
by Hattie's firm. The major objection to this book is the suggested
yet unprintable title. Another question arises when the author
shows up unannounced in the lobby of Hattie's office. Expecting him
to begin yelling streams of profanity, the office workers don't
know what to do with him. Hattie suggests that he doesn't even have
Tourette's Syndrome; he is just writing from the perspective of a
man who does.
There are many gems in SHE MAY NOT LEAVE. Weldon has given the
reader countless opportunities to anticipate the final result. It's
so subtle and so polished, yet so innocent. Weldon totally sneaks
up on you!
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on January 23, 2011
She May Not Leave