The Cloning of Joanna May Paperback – 23 Oct 1995
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‘The deadly accuracy of Fay Weldon’s psychology makes this bizarre tale a compulsive page-turner’
‘A triumph of complex entertainment’
From the Back Cover
“Chemistry, not biochemistry, is what Fay Weldon’s style brings to mind: sodium fizzing its way across a watertank in the school laboratory – with occasional periods of smooth cruising before it crackles into energy again.”
NEW STATESMAN & SOCIETY
“Another totally original novel by the best woman writer in Britain. Sharp, funny, very modern.”
“Domestic and global concerns jostle along together: the manner is brisk, the plot wild, the content visionary. There is so much energy in this large, moral, angry book that it feels at times actively dangerous.”
“Her fertility of invention transforms the incredible into the irresistible.”
MAIL ON SUNDAY
“An outrageously funny novel.”
“The deadly accuracy of her psychology and the smooth balance of he writing makes this bizarre tale a compulsive page-turner.”
“A parable for our time. This is Weldon at her best: moralistic, but not preachy. A rattling read – with a brilliant twist at the end.”
Top customer reviews
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!
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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