Book Reviews

The Cloning of Joanna May by Fay Weldon

I have read and enjoyed the The Cloning of Joanna May by Fay Weldon many times. Like many Weldon books, it is a oddly satisfying mixture of humour, drama and satire, with a dash of feminism thrown in.

Prim and proper Joanna May is 60 and lives a quiet life, mostly out of necessity. Although they have been divorced for over ten years, her ex-husband, the notorious business man Carl May, still monitors and controls her life; he can’t let go of her. After a particularly invasive incident, Joanna confronts him only to discover that he had her cloned many years before.

Joanna is understandably shocked and wants nothing to do with her clones, but destiny has other plans.

Obsessed by the Tarot, Joanna a fortune ready for her by her lover years previously with her as the Empress surrounded by the Queens of Wands, Pentacles, Swords, and Cups.

Jane, Julie, Gina, and Alice have been raised by foster parents and, despite the base genetics, have each turned out very differently. All of them experience a crisis point in their lives that, one by one, brings them together.

At first, at least, they are hostile to their original, blaming her unfairly for their genetic legacy. Joanna isn’t exactly thrilled, either. But eventually they embrace their legacy and their power.

Meanwhile, Carl May, Joanna’s amoral husband, has an affair with a kept woman, opens a nuclear powerplant and tries to punish Joanna for not being the perfect wife, let alone the perfect woman.

This novel is, like a lot of Fay Weldon books, both funny and disturbing, using humour to examine the very real ethical issues around cloning and human experimentation and the power relations between men and women..

Highly recommended.

Find The Cloning of Joanna May in the SMSA Library Catalogue 


Melanie Ryan
Program and Communications Manager


The Cloning of Joanna May by Fay Weldon

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