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Wish Her Safe at Home (New York Review Books)by Stephen Benatar
Synopses & Reviews
Who hasnt imagined winning the lottery or coming into an inheritance? Wouldnt it be great to chuck your old workaday life and live it up somewhere else? At the start of Wish Her Safe at Home, Rachel Waring seems to be experiencing a dream come true: out of nowhere, her great-aunt leaves her a mansionand she moves in without delay. Gone is Rachels administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. From now on she will be a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, and expression. She plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But as we watch Rachel singing and joking away her days, we begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far.
In Wish Her Safe at Home, Stephen Benatar has created a masterpiece of humor and horror. In the words of The Times Literary Supplement, Rachel is “Scarlett OHara, Blanche DuBois, Snow White, and Miss Havisham all rolled into one.”
Rachel Waring is deliriously happy. Out of nowhere, a great-aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city—and she sheds her old life without delay. Gone is her dull administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. She will live as a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, expression, and love. Once installed in her new quarters, Rachel plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But as Rachel sings and jokes the days away, her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far.
In Wish Her Safe at Home, Stephen Benatar finds humor and horror in the shifting region between elation and mania. His heroine could be the next-door neighbor of the Beales of Grey Gardens or a sister to Jane Gardams oddball protagonists, but she has an ebullient charm all her own.
About the Author
Stephen Benatar was born in London in 1937. He has taught English at the University of Bordeaux, lived in Southern California, been a schoolteacher, an umbrella salesman, a hotel porter, and an employee of the Forestry Commission. He began writing as a child, but did not publish his first book, The Man on the Bridge, until he was forty-four. Subsequent works include Wish Her Safe at Home, When I Was Otherwise, Recovery, Letters for a Spy, and Two on a Tiger and Stars, a book for young readers. Benatar has four grown children and currently lives in West Hampstead, London, with his partner, John.
John Carey is Arts Emeritus Merton Professor of English at Oxford University. He has appeared as a host and commentator on numerous television and radio programs in England and is the former chief book reviewer for The Sunday Times. Among his books are The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts?, Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the Twenieth Centurys Most Enjoyable Books, and a biography of William Golding. He has chaired the Booker Prize committee twice and in 2005 was the chair of the first international Booker Prize committee.
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