Posts Tagged ‘Mary Wesley’

‘Jumping the Queue’ by Mary Wesley – A Malicious Wit


‘Jumping the Queue’ by Mary Wesley  (1983)  – 217 pages

Why am I drawn like a magnet to novels which are described as “maliciously witty”?

I first discovered Mary Wesley in mid-career with ‘Sensible Lives’, and I read her novels as they came out from that point. However I had not read her first adult novel, ‘Jumping the Queue’, which got Wesley’s career jump-started in 1983 when she was already a young 71 years old. ‘Jumping the Queue’ was first turned down by several publishers for being too scandalous and quirky for their tastes.

In ‘Jumping the Queue’ we have outrage piled on outrage: screwing around, mother murder, incest, and eating the family dog. I kind of like it. Many of the incidents in the novel seem to be taken from the sordid stories one finds in tabloids.

Do you realize I killed my mother?” he said gently.

Of course. Lots of people long to. You just did it.”

Here’s the opening plot of this black comedy. Middle-aged Matilda is standing on the bridge, ready to kill herself by jumping or walking into the sea in a manner similar to what Virginia Woolf did. Her unfaithful husband is dead, and her children are all grown and moved away. She really doesn’t want to live through her inevitable decline. Before she left her house she sold her pet gander Gus to a breeding farm so he could have some fun.

However, on the bridge, Matilda is interrupted by 35-year-old Hugh, the matricide. Yes, Hugh murdered his mother with her own silver serving tray, and the police have an all-out search for him. He also wants to kill himself in the sea.

However since these two have interrupted each other and spoiled their suicide plans, Matilda takes the polite Hugh back home with her. Soon the gander Gus returns home too.

All this happens during the first few pages, and ‘Jumping the Queue’ only gets more hysterical from there. This is a wild and raunchy novel.

Along the way we have set pieces about the faux-country life outside of London, going to an expensive stylish London hairdresser, shopping in London boutiques, attending a London concert, and just walking the streets of London. Mary Wesley makes ironic fun of everything.

And that is why I read Mary Wesley.


Grade:   A



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