of The Lady Who Liked Clean Rest Rooms:
The Chronicle of One of
the Strangest Stories Ever to Be Rumoured About Around New York"
by Nina Sonenberg
Fans of J. P. Donleavy - and newcomers to his antics - can rejoice at his latest rich, ribald and touching creation, THE LADY WHO LIKED CLEAN REST ROOMS: The Chronicle of One of the Strangest Stories Ever to Be Rumoured About Around New York. Mrs. Jocelyn Guenevere Marchantiere Jones sweeps onto the scene as the doyenne of an estimable house and fortune in Scarsdale. Although her South Carolinian, socially registered grandmother disapproved of anything above the Mason-Dixon line, Jocelyn still honors her code of behavior: "Your snobberies are the most preciously valuable asset you will ever have in life, cherish them well. Avoid unbrave men and when you're away from your own trusted lavatory, only go to the cleanest of places." But Jocelyn's certainties are tested when her husband leaves her for a bit of "fresh flesh." Ever the lady, Jocelyn proposes modest terms for the divorce and holds her course through financial collapse. What follows is a freewheeling tour of our heroine's "unexpurgated thoughts" as fortune bounces her down a peculiar social ladder that separates Scarsdale from Yonkers, Yonkers from the Bronx - and the New World nouveaux riches from the "dignified homeless indigent." Donleavy proves himself as much the master of a certain New York social set and train corridor as he is of the psyche of a fresh-mouthed 43-year-old Daughter of the Confederacy. The reader cheers of Jocelyn as she fends off her friends' husbands, brandishes a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson and lives for her trips to Manhattan's museums. But her search for the city's cleanest restrooms becomes increasingly desperate, leading Jocelyn finally to a funeral parlor and a quite shocking reversal of fate. Eight elegant line drawings by Elliott Banfield complement Donleavy's slim text, depicting moments of scandal with a restraint that would do Jocelyn's grandmother proud.