Sisterhood, satire and shock

Issue 

Figments of a Murder
By Gillian Hanscombe
Spinifex Press, 1995, 264 pp., $16.95 (pb)
Reviewed by Kath Gelber
Hanscombe has a delightful way of combining conventional narrative with lyrical prose, evident in earlier works including Sybil: The Glide of Her Tongue, which I bought a copy of after hearing her speak at a book launch in Sydney. Figments of Murder is written in a similar style. It's a clever, devastatingly satirical look at sisterhood, feminism and moral and political correctness. The narrative centres on Babes, a feminist matriarch whose power trips, control issues and domination over younger, less experienced women earns her the intense dislike of the narrator of the story — so much so, that she begins to plot Babes' murder. Although it may sound incredible, it's actually very funny. The narrator feels that Babes uses her wisdom, age and feminist credentials to do what she accuses others of doing — to dominate, get her own way, manipulate people. And isn't the sisterhood meant to be the opposite of that? Babes gets her own amidst a circle of women's conferences and hapless relationships which many a reader will recognise. The book is a pleasure to read, and although it may shock at times, it will also amuse. It provides timely food for thought for feminists ... and vegetarians!