Sharp as a knife and crackling with wit, wickedness and delight, and just over a hundred pages long, The Abbess of Crewe is an essential read. The austere and beautiful Alexandra is set upon becoming Abbess when the present incumbent dies - and just how far she is prepared to go to get her wish is demonstrated forthwith. She has a rival, but the esteemed Alexandra and her allies have weapons of surveillance that make Watergate look like child's play.
This is, in fact, Watergate with nuns as the subtitle suggests (A wicked satire on Watergate), with, on the tapes, `poetry deleted' in place of Nixon's `expletive deleted'. The media is much titillated when a nun is expelled after being accused of dallying with a Jesuit priest, and from there on this clever little farce unfolds. This artfully constructed novella is an exercise in spiteful charm from beginning to end. Four stars only, however, because as satire it only goes so far and Watergate is too large and complex a phenomenon to be addressed solely by artful flippancy.