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on 12 October 2010
This book was a bit weird, and not quite what I thought Fay Weldon's books were like! Its about Joanna May, who has split up from her husband Carl May, and is just generally dissatisfied with her life, as she has no children, and no job, and nothing from the marriage really. It turns out that as Carl May had such a horrible abusive childhood he had a vasectomy so he couldn't carry on his flawed family line. Joanna May wanted children, and had some kind of imaginary pregnancy, and so then had an imaginary abortion, during which Carl arranged for some of her eggs to be taken to create clones of her...the book then follows the lives of the clones and how different they have all become, compared to Joanna. Joanna doesn't know about these clones, but they by accident seem to meet each other and realise that something weird is going on. They find out that they are clones, and all move in together. Then they seek out Joanna. Its just a really weird book, not really quite sure what it is trying to say! I didn't really like the characters of Joanna or Carl, but the story of the clones lives was ok. Not sure if I recommend it or not really - if its the only book you have, read it, but if you have others , read them first, haha.
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on 24 July 2010
Fay Weldon's books are always entertaining and insightful and The Cloning Of Joanna May is no exception. The novel focuses on it's protagonist; the beautiful and intelligent Joanna May and it's antagonist; the vengeful and bitter Carl May; Joanna's ex husband.

Set in the UK of The 1980s, the novel centers on the 60 year old Joanna who has had a materially privileged but restricted life, having been born at a time when opportunities for women were very limited. At the start of the novel, she is still in the process of recovering from her divorce from her husband Carl, a wealthy tycoon, owner of many business ventures including two large nuclear power stations.

Carl is a complex character, and despite his obvious terrible flaws has a vulnerable and pathetic (in the true sense of the word) side to his nature; which is compounded by the dreadful abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents during his childhood. Joanna struggles to reconcile her ambivalent feelings towards him.

Early in the novel we learn that Joanna- The "perfect' woman has somehow been cloned by scientists working for Carl resulting in four 30 year old women, who are all oblivious to the strange nature of their being and to each others existence. Unusually, despite their identical DNA, they have incredibly different lifestyles and levels of success, thus reflecting the nature/nurture issue which is a constant theme throughout the book.

There are many other issues raised; the role of women in society, the concept of identity, the morality of scientific advancement and the complexities of human relationships and family life are all dealt with.

However, despite it's complicated subtext, "The Cloning of Joanna May" is an exciting and entertaining read. The plot moves quickly and it's characters are believable and engaging. I enjoyed it immensely and definitely recommend it!
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on 19 May 2012
(3.5 stars)

This novel really is a product of the 80s, from the descriptions of the clothing to the politics to the quite disturbing attitudes of some of the characters towards women.

The story is about Joanna May, who at the age of 30 is cloned without her knowledge, by her then husband Carl May. 30 years later, Joanna and the clones discover their origin and 'sisters' for the first time. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it's possible that the one dimensional nature of the clones is because it is only when they are all together that they become a whole...

There are lots of themes covered in this novel, such as the moral responsibility in the practice of cloning, and the nature-nurture debate (covered in several ways); but I did think these issues were overshadowed slightly by the relationships played out between man and woman, and ultimately found that far more disturbing.
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on 16 February 2012
'The Cloning of Joanna May' is Fay Weldon at her best; well, second best, behind 'The Life and Loves of a She-devil'. The story is original and involving, mixing her typical domestic drama with the 90s fascination for cloning. Weldon also throws in recurring images of tarot cards that create an ominous atmosphere whilst exploring notions of destiny. As well as being darkly funny and - in places - quite angry and moral, the narrative is philosophical and taps into various feminist theories about identity. Re-using her technique of alternating chapters between 1st and 3rd person, we experience the narrative unfolding in different ways. At times elaborate and at others sparse, the prose has an energy and crispness that makes the novel a particularly enjoyable read.
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on 5 April 2016
loved it! I hope Fay delves into Sci fi again.
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on 18 July 2015
Classic Fay Weldon
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