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A young couple’s dream of a rustic idyll turns into a battle between good and evil in Fay Weldon’s novel about passion, deceit, and witchcraft

Liffey longs to live in the country. Her dream comes true when she and her husband, Richard, rent the aptly named Honeycomb Cottage. Richard will commute from the city on weekends; Liffey will have a baby. It seems like an ideal arrangement.

But being pregnant, living in the country, and waiting for a husband to come home is not easy. For one thing, there’s really bad neighbor trouble, which Richard refuses to recognize. Liffey finds Tucker, the farmer, far too attentive, and suspects that she is the victim of witchcraft. Tucker’s wife, Mabs, jealous and spiteful, is obsessed by the idea that she should be pregnant rather than Liffey. As new life swells inexorably inside her, Liffey realizes all are dancing to the baby’s tune.

This is a wise and moving story about love, lust, and the stubbornness of new life. Puffball is a potent brew from Fay Weldon’s fertile imagination.

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