Joanna May, cast out for her infidelity by her husband, thought herself unique, indivisible – until one day, to her hideous shock, she discovered herself to be five: that though childless she was a mother: that though an only child, she was surrounded by sisters, young enough to be her daughters – Jane, Julie, Gina and Alice, the clones of Joanna May.
In this astonishing new novel, Fay Weldon weaves a web of paradox quite awesome in its cunning. Funny, serious, revolutionary – questioning the nature of individuality itself. Jane, Julie, Gina, and Alice: identical, yet utterly different, knowing nothing – to begin with – of each others’ existence. How will meeting one another be? Will the discovery, fraught with danger as it is, destroy them, or transfigure them? And what of Joanna, the original – what of her being, her very soul?
The answer lies, in part, with the creator, with husband Carl, an abused child grown up to be a power in the land, Chairman of Britnuc. Power-crazed yet pitiful, Carl confronted time itself and cloned his beautiful wife to keep her young forever – and himself with aces up his sleeve. Safe in the arms of enchanting young Bethany, Carl ponders the clones’ future now that their original has proved herself false. If Joanna could betray him, so too might the clones. Confrontation becomes inevitable – battle is joined. And yet, in an astonishing denouement, it is love that conquers all.