Britisher Ellis (Unexplained Laughter, 1987; etc., etc.) offers a
sharply amusing presentday retake of, say, A Midsummer Night's
Dream - in which people are used by fairies for fairyreproduction
and then are caused to forget all about it. Eloise has always been
an independent-minded girl, but her mother Clare is even less
pleased than usual when Eloise leaves London for a little red
cottage isolated in Wales and sets up housekeeping as a seamstress
while boyfriend Simon labors as a woodworker. Things get only worse
- to Clare's way of thinking - when Eloise starts hinting about
wanting a baby. And so, with longtime best friend Miriam, Clare
goes on a rescue mission, tearing herself away from the cafes and
shops of London and the many pleasurable woes the great city offers
her as an aging divorcee - and goes out to the deep country, where
"nothing ever happened." Life together in the red cottage proves
rather crowded, especially when half-vacant Eloise's moodiness only
intensifies - and when verystrange things happen, such as Eloise's
walking in a downpour and staying dry. A gamekeeper with unnerving
tales, four strange men who return again and again, a shepherd who
seems not quite normal - all these not-humans will prove to have
had a part in bringing about the sudden birth of Eloise's
green-eyed "baby," and they'll have even more to do - and how -
with the fate of this small but potent creature. As her story works
toward its appropriately unshocking end, Ellis deepens the theme by
remarking on humans' defilement of nature and on an obliviou earth
that "cared nothing for humanity." And her perfectly toned social
satire unfailingly holds its own, as in the fairy gamekeeper's
thoughts: "Humans were useful for breeding, when you could catch
one, and every now and then . . . he ate one, but otherwise he
avoided them on the whole. . . . " Bright, thoughtful fiction that
clips along, having both its say and its fun. (Kirkus Reviews)
There is a little brick house in an isolated valley in deepest
Wales. To this idyllic retreat come Eloise and Simon, a young
couple escaping the city. Eloise has led the way, inspired by the
teachings of her muse, Moonbird, who holds that Mother Nature looks
with benign concern upon her human children and sees to their
well-being. At first all is well for Eloise and Simon and their cat
M'sieu. Eloise spends her days sewing old-fashioned night dresses
and petticoats which she sells to an exclusive shop in town; Simon
does woodworking and odd jobs for the nearby farmers. The garden,
the woods, the hills, the silence are all as Moonbird had promised.
Or almost. For one day, four men, incongruously dressed in city
suits and street shoes and carrying briefcases, walk up the country
lane to the little house, and things begin to happen. Uncanny,
inexplicable things. Things even Eloise's mother, Clare, and
Clare's best friend, Miriam, who arrive from London, can't make
heads or tails of. The two older women bicker and fuss, trying to
decipher the younger woman's increasingly strange behavior. And
then Eloise returns from a walk in the woods with a baby in her
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