Auto da Fay by Fay Weldon
A Memoir

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Synopsis

Fay Weldon, one of England's best-selling and most celebrated authors, looks back on her life as wife, lover, playwright, novelist, feminist, antifeminist, and bon vivant in this funny and engaging memoir. She writes brilliantly about her upbringing in New Zealand, as young and poor girl in London, as an unmarried mother, wife, lover, playwright, novelist, feminist, anti-feminist, and winer-and-diner: there is little ground she's failed to cover.

Brought up among women-her intrepid mother, grandmother, and sister-Weldon found men a mystery until the swinging-sixties London introduced her to the indecent, the hopeless, and the golden-footed. A central figure among the Bohemian writers and artists of the sixties, she has maintained this unique position through four turbulent decades. An icon to many, a thorn in the flesh to others, she has never failed to excite, madden, or interest.

Born Franklin Birkinshaw in Barnt Green, Birmingham, in 1931, most of Weldon's childhood was spent in New Zealand. Her glamorous father, a philandering doctor, played only a minor role as was generally absent. Fay's intrepid mother and bohemian grandmother raised her along with her sister, Jane. Weldon's family, it turns out, has an impressive literary pedigree; her grandfather, Edgar, Uncle Selwyn and, for a brief while, her mother were all novelists. Arriving in London from New Zealand, just after the Second World War, her mother kept the brood together by working as a servant in a grand house-the experience of living below stairs later helped Weldon to script the television drama Upstairs, Downstairs.

After graduating from St. Andrews University, Weldon worked in the Foreign Office until becoming pregnant. Defying the conventions of the times, she remained a single parent. She struggled, living in poverty in post-war London made all the more grinding since she was trying to maintain respectability. Following a stint at the Daily Mirror, she drifted into advertising before desperately entering into a crushingly awful marriage of financial (in)convenience-a marriage so dreadful she writes of it in the third person as if writing about characters in a novel. With cool, unwavering honesty she details the truly crushing experience of being hitched to a celibate, Masonic headmaster who encouraged her to work in a seedy West End nightclub. She escapes eventually, and finds true love at thirty after meeting Ron Weldon at a party. When this union, too, comes to an end, Fay's packed enough experience into her life to begin her career as a writer. She develops into a bohemian intellectual, and works alongside poets such as Edwin Brock, David Wevill and Peter Porter, pens winning advertising slogans, and truly begins writing seriously. Fay closes her riveting memoir as she drops what will be her first success, a television play, into a Regents Park mailbox on her way to the hospital to give birth. The play will be the first of many triumphs for a writer whose provocative oeuvre has never failed to excite, madden, or interest.
 

About Fay Weldon

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Fay Weldon was born in England and raised in New Zealand. Her novels and short stories are bestsellers around the world. Her film and television work has been accorded great critical acclaim. She lives and works in London.
 
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 388 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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After a variety of family crises and an unexpected inheritance right out of Dickens, the Weldon women moved in the late 1940s to England, where Fay continued her schooling and began to think about being a writer.

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The Guardian

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Auto da Fay Fay Weldon Flamingo £15.99, pp366 When Fay Weldon leaves St Andrews with an MA in economics and psychology, she takes her scarlet university gown with her: it comes in useful later, she says, as a Father Christmas outfit, before moths claim it.

May 05 2002 | Read Full Review of Auto da Fay: A Memoir

The Guardian

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Auto da Fay Fay Weldon 366pp, Flamingo, £15.99 Read Fay Weldon's autobiography, and her fiction suddenly seems a whole lot less peculiar.

May 18 2002 | Read Full Review of Auto da Fay: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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The racy narrative begins with older generations of Weldon's family and continues with Weldon, her mother and her sister.

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Book Reporter

Fay Weldon is the author of 24 novels, five short story collections, two children's books, four works of nonfiction, several plays, and now AUTO DA FAY, a memoir.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Auto da Fay: A Memoir

Entertainment Weekly

At first, you may be disappointed that Auto da Fay, Fay Weldon's memoir, does not extend into the full maturity of her writing career, which has included corrosive comic novels such as 1984's ''The Life and Loves of a She-Devil'' and 1991's ''Darcy's Utopia.'' But soon you start reveling in he...

Jul 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Auto da Fay: A Memoir

London Review of Books

16 · 22 August 2002 From Paul Vaughan I find it hard to believe Joan Rockwell’s confident statement (Letters, 8 August) that Dorothy Sayers wrote ‘Go to Work on an Egg.’ I recall it as a postwar Egg Board slogan: much too late for Sayers.

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