Sisteria - Sue MargolisHeadline, 2000, Paperback.
Condition: Near Fine.
It's only after Finchley-dwelling Jewish housewife Beverley Littlestone has spent several minutes attempting "to work out which was further west, Liverpool or Bristol" that she realises she's literally "been lying back and thinking of England" while husband Melvin "had been engaged in what he liked to think of as lovemaking". Melvin's business skills aren't up to much either. And never have been. His latest bright idea to stave off bankruptcy involves selling "best-quality micro-fibre Korean toupées". Mail order. Meanwhile as their 17-year-old daughter Natalie finds a cure for her Permanent Menstrual Tension in happy clappy Christianity, son Benny is trying to reclaim his foreskin using a couple of 32mm washers and some fishing weights. And then Beverley's estranged sister--a thin, evil chat show presenter, given to reducing her colonic irrigator to tears and trying to book virgins who'd been groped by vicars for her Christmas special--asks Bev to have a baby for her. Sisteria is packed with kooky characters from Bev's live-in mother Queenie and her sleuthing pals at the day centre, to ex-RAF flight-lieutenant-turned-witch Fallopia Trebetherick (" 'So, Fallopia,' Queenie said, 'Beverley tells me you're a lesbian. How are things in Beirut these days?' ") via Vlad the Impala (that's what he drives) Melvin's supplier of dodgy toupées, dodgy ex-Soviet DIY ear-syringing kits and anti-snoring devices. It's a laugh-out-loud funny, feel-good farce with lots of sex, a smattering of religion and a sprinkle of politics, which will have particular appeal for anyone who's ever experienced north-west London Jewish family life, or pondered the pros and cons of male circumcision. --Lisa Gee352pp.