Books: The Widow Britannia

THE MIDDLE AGE OF MRS. ELIOT (439 pp.)—Angus Wilson—Viking ($4.95).

More than half a century ago Rudyard Kipling advised the world to walk wide of the Widow at Windsor (for '"alf o' creation she owns"). Now British Satirist Angus Wilson offers a look at the other side of the Victorian coin—a blowsy Widow Britannia, landed tails down on the wet asphalt of the Welfare State.

Author Wilson's heroine is a smart, smug, vastly muddled and grimly girdled figure of middle-class bafflement. Meg Eliot is widowed in a fit of absentmindedness : her husband, a prosperous...

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