From her first novel The Fat Woman's Joke (published in 1967 and reprinted twice last year) to her most recent books, Praxis and Puffball, Fay Weldon has throughout her career been a writer to surprise, and that is certainly true of her mesmerizing and powerful new book.
Isabel Acre's journey through life has taken her from the Australian outback via the beds and alleys of Fleet Street and she seamier side of Washington high life to a comfortable home in London, a reputation as a serious journalist, and a husband in the new chore-sharing, child-reading mould.
Suddenly, however, the past which Isabel had thought safely behind her becomes the sources of actual physical danger. With frightening ease, the worlds of political intrigue and murderous conspiracy intrude into the coziness of her domestic life. Whom can she trust? Man? When she reveals to her husband that she long ago had an affair with a young American senator, a man who is not challenging for the Presidential nomination itself, and that her son is the love-child of that affair, even she cannot foresee the consequences. Love got her into the predicament in which she finds herself; but can love now get her out of it?
The President's Child is an unexpected book about unexpected things; about the way evil turns into good and back again; about truth at war with lies; about outer blindness and inner vision; about male power and female resistance to that power. Fay Weldon brilliantly exploits many of the conventions of the thriller genre in a novel which shows this important novelist at the height of her powers.