Jumping the Queue Paperback – Jul 25 2006
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"I loved it for its extraordinary combination of despair and wild black humour" -- Julia Blackburn "Great verve and inventiveness" Times Literary Supplement "A virtuoso performance of guileful plotting, deft characterisation and malicious wit" The Times "Quriky, sexy and deeply fascinating" -- Sheila Hancock
From the Back Cover
Matilda Poliport, recently widowed, has decided to End It All. But her meticulously planned bid for graceful oblivion is foiled, and when she later foils the suicide attempt of another lost soul - Hugh Warner, on the run from the police - life begins again for both.
But life also begins to throw up nasty secrets and some awkward questions: just what was Matilda's husband Tom doing in Paris? How is the soon-to-be-knighted John (or Piers as he likes to be called) involved? Was Louise more than just a lovely daughter? And why did Hugh choose Matilda as his saviour?
Jumping the Queue, brimming over with confidence and black humour, is Mary Wesley's brilliant debut novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Matilda Poliport is a relatively new widow, three years. Mid fifties with white hair, attractive and younger looking than she appears. Matilda is tired, tired of her life, her husband has died, her children don't visit much, her dog died, and all she has left is a gander, Gus. She plans to end her life, she cleans her home from top to bottom,puts her best sheets on the beds, writes a good-bye, lists her assets and where they should go. She is ready. But then, fate steps in, and her plans go awry.
Matilda decides to wait another month and then complete her plans. While on a stroll by the sea, she stops a young man from jumping in. Ironic? This man known as The Matricide, has killed his mother. She takes him in, settling him in her home. They develop a relationship and disclose their inner most secrets, but not all of them. After all, what do either them have to lose? We hear about Matilda's children and she lets us know she finds animals much easier to love. Hgh, the Matricide,we discover, is a pleasant young man with his own devils. Matilda's neighbors, her friends in London, her children and finally her husband, are all part and parcel of the end of the world for Matilda. She seems more settled now, but, then, there are many twists and turns.
I found this novel to be quite provocative and certainly one that gave me a great deal to think about. Mary Wesley may have had these same feelings. growing old is not for the faint of heart. This is a novel surprising in it's honesty and a stickler for detail. I could see the cottage, the town and Matilda in my mind's eye. Matilda was an irritation at times, but I did like her so! This was Mary Wesley's first novel, and off she went!
Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-02-13
But her plans are spoiled, first by the unexpected presence on the beach of a group of young people and then, later, by a chance encounter with a man on the run from the police - a Matricide. Wesley brings the two characters together and they begin a dance of mutual and self exploration. As with the best mystery novels, nothing is quite what it seems. Wesley has a talent for pithy dialog, concise description, and amusing juxtapositions. Most of all she has an all-inclusive view of how life can unfold in the interstices and how even the most odd things can be accepted and integrated into one's daily routine, though not without cost.
Matilda is a resourceful woman who has lived her entire life with the mental trick of forgetting, or at least pushing into the furthest recesses of her mind, inconvenient truths. As she approaches death - only temporarily thwarted by her attachment to the Matricide Hugh Warner - she rediscovers the hidden and buried parts of her life. Yet though this could be a bitter book it is in fact surprisingly life-affirming. As she talks about her discovery of her husband's infidelity with their daughter, Matilda also acknowledges that she enjoyed the opportunity to experience at second-hand the new sexual techniques her husband was being taught in the course of the affair. Much as Dickens or Shakespeare can paint characters with dubious back-stories who nevertheless gain our sympathy and often respect, so Wesley leads us to admire Matilda even as we come to understand the price she has paid for her strategy of wilfull forgetfulness.
In the end, of course, things fall away and Matilda, alone at the end, consumates her suicide as originally planned. And the mastery of Wesley's writing is such that we feel both saddened by and accepting of her final decision. For anyone who enjoys contemporary (or nearly so, given that the book was originally written over two decades ago) literature, this little book is a brief yet lasting pleasure and is far better than the novels Wesley went on to write, which sadly ended up being popular at the expense of being interesting.