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The Spa Decameron

2.81  ·  Rating details ·  536 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Ten high achieving ladies are gathered together in the week between Christmas and the New Year, at the expensive Castle Spa, seeking, through Botox, aromatherapy and general all round pampering, a new beginning to their lives.
Unknown Binding
Published August 30th 2007 by Not Avail (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 2.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  536 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Everything seemed suddenly very beautiful and very dangerous."

Comparisons to Thackeray and Dorothy Parker are certainly flattering but don't quite do justice to Weldon's individual sensibility and unique style, which in this book is wicked, observant, and acerbic, the tone warm on one page and unforgiving on the next. Likewise parallels to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Boccaccio's Decameron, while they show off the learnedness of the reviewer, don't quite capture what Weldon seems to be doing
Chelsea Craig
I really wanted this book to go somewhere but I was just so incredibly bored. The stories seemed to be written purely for shock value and I found myself wanting the book to be over when I was only 100 pages in. Only gave it 2 stars since I actually finished it - but I lean more towards 1.5 stars overall.
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Following the lead of Chaucer and Boccaccio, Fay Weldon has set up a situation where 12 ladies are trapped and isolated at a dysfunctional spa over Christmas; with plenty of time on their hands, they share their stories around the jacuzzi. There is a definite feminist slant to the stories, and their reception, as men and other fools are skewered by Weldon's sharp satire and wit.
The Spa Decameron by Fay Weldon
May 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was giving this book a shot but then I got to one of the chapters and it was dropping lots of F bombs and other foul language. The whole chapter was vulgar and by the end I had no interest in finishing the book.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for me this one, it felt like I was reading through her notes, just a few ideas for stories but not a book. I really could not get into it or connect to any of the women in the Spa.
Maria Donovan
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2000s
I am a fan of Fay Weldon as a writer and a person and inclined to like what she has to say. Having said that I didn't feel inclined to be sympathetic towards women spoiled enough to spend five grand to stay in a Spa over Christmas but there's always more to it than that: why are the women there? All, in their own way, have difficulties, which they share, a story at a time. Some of the stories are more gripping than others, and the over arching narrative, in which things fall apart at the Spa and ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1 and a half stars. The half towards 'ok' was due to the 20-30 pages about the Conspiracy Theorist. The only bit I liked. The rest was pretentious with bad typos and spelling. The word 'because' should be spelled the same, correct way, always. There were quite a few different ways I saw the word 'because' in this edition. Early Weldon was great. This was sadly NOT. I'd like my $6.95 NZ dollars back, but considering it came from mass market remaindered stock, I'm thinking that won't happen LOL.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
well done but almost too long story of women who share their life stories sitting around a bubbling jacuzzi. Strong independent women but always there is a man present or somewhere or even in one case, before the transition. Tales of betrayal either by others or by themselves, tales of wealth, of children wanted or not, lifestyles real or imagined. Enjoyable to a point.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A non-literary fiction book, this was just okay--light reading. A spa out in the sticks of northern England offers a discounted rate for 10 days over the Xmas holiday. This group of bourgie women gather at this place and bond around the jacuzzi, telling their life stories, almost all of them about men who have done them wrong.
Eleanor Halstead
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delicious and wicked. Weldon's stark observation of every way women can transgress is almost singular. I loved the Chaucerian feel of telling each character's story in turn, and I'm sure Geoffrey would have been delighted by the depravity and irreverent humour displayed throughout.
Eva Leemans
Some chapters were really fun to read, others were just boring and way to long.
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit, reviewed
 I choose this book because I just saw it at the library when I was looking for something to read. It looked kind of interesting and different so I checked it out. It was an ok book to read once, but probably not something I would go back to again.
In the book a writer is going though a bit of a identity crisis and questioning her life. She is starting to feel her age, her husband has left her alone over the holidays to go attend to his aging parents, and her children all have families of their
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very recently I read The Spa by Fay Weldon. I actually started to read it before I went to camp, and then had to bring it back to the library before finishing. Then later on, once I was back home, I picked it back up and started to read it again. The Spa focuses on a woman Phoebe, who after a very interesting year, decides to go to a spa for Christmas as her husband has to take care of his mother who doesn't like her much, and her children who live in the states and can not make it to England ...more
Martine Bailey
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it

I think it must say something about contemporary fiction (or my take on it at least) that I found this incredibly refreshing in its feminist take on women's lives. The conceit is well known (that a group of very successful women swap tales of their lives in an upmarket spa) but I found this far more funny and acute than I expected.
It could be that the opening, a tale of adultery told to the narrator by her hairdresser, is less accidental than we think. Weldon taps into that bitchy but indulgent
I found it hard to get through The Spa. It is written in the Style of Olive Kitteredge, or a Maeve Binchy novely, where you get to hear the individual stories of all of these people who happen to land on the same bus, the same trip to Italy, the same Spa, or happen to know or relate to the same depressive neighbor in a town, at different times in her life. I found it disjointed, and ultimately not memorable. And you never really get a sense of the main and central character who narrates the ...more
Denise Mitchell
When I started reading this book I honestly didn't think I would get through to the end. However, it ended up being one of those books you have to keep reading - just to find out what happens next.

A group of professional women end up in a spa over the festive season and each one has a story to tell but,CBS warned, this book is not chick-lit. The stories are mainly dark and harrowing and each one tells the tale of how the woman telling the story has become the person she is today. The story is
Rosalind Minett
I can't believe I closed the book and gave it away half read - a Fay Weldon. Normally I read her books for the kind of relaxed amusement that leaves you satisfied. She provides tremendous amusement with her wicked take on characters and their incidents, but while laughing and enjoying the read you are full of admiration for her skill.

My version of this book is called The Spa Decameron, showing her intent. It didn't quite come off and by the middle of the book the extremes of the stories became
Dec 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
The Decameron, written by Giovanni Boccaccio, in about 1350 is a collection of novellas, arranged as a story about a group of women and men escaping the plague in Florence, and staying in the countryside, each telling stories for the others' amusement. Weldon's Spa Decameron tells of a group of women spending the Christmas break at a spa. Treatments are limited, staff keep disappearing, and the women loll in the jacuzzi and tell each other the stories of their lives.

In this way, it is somewhat
Aug 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody!
Not what I expected from Fay Weldon, who I remember as being light and cynical at the same time, funny and real, with dashes of wit. Here, a borrowed-from-Boccaccio-and-Chaucer series of tales of social roles--not names of people, but roles they play in society is these women's ID. I can't remember anybody's name, much less their story. Yet, Trond Sander and his daily life and memories and movements stay with me (Out Stealing Horses), as do those of Dr. Jim Delaney from North River. So far Fay ...more
May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was given to me at a bookswap with the guarantee, that I would be able to relate to the characters. No. Definitely not.

Instead, I found a book that was humoristic mostly thanks to its absurd set of characters and unbelievable storylines. This was enough for the beginning of the book, but towards the end, it started to be too repetitive, and I was already tiring of the "This is how all women act"-cliches that didn't ring true to me at all.

The worst was the storyteller, the voice present
Diana Hockley
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok

I couldn't enjoy this novel as much as I would have liked because the print is so small! I read the paperback, and I am wondering what the publishers are thinking - of course, to save money - but it is not easy to read print which must be TNR 10. I found myself skipping pages because it was just too much of a strain on my eyes.

The concept of the story was interesting, but I found myself plowing through the later stories of the women in the spa. However, I did like the Stepmother's story - I
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though there is a central narrative 'character', this book is essentially a collection of stories based of the lives of several characters. The book was readable and the writing was good, but I didn't really like any of the stories. I don't feel like I really related to any of the characters. Many of the stories were pretty dark, and more than a couple made me think "Are there really people out there like this?" Anyhow, not really bad, but didn't really like it either.
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have given this 4 stars as it was a light funny book, sort of easy listening reading equivalent. About high achieving women who are spending the festive season in a spa in Cumbria to get away from the festive season for differing reasons. Each tell their story, in a similar way to the Decameron. In fact the book was called "The Spa Decameron" when I bought it. It constists of stories of Murder, incest and things like that. Good fun.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Book Club suggestion that I didn't even finish reading. Nasty women cooped up together at an exclusive spa while the rest of the world celebrates a Christmas holiday. I just didn't like any of the characters or the slightly mocking but ingratiating tone of the narrator. Book Club response pointed out its similarity to The Decameron which reminded me of that ancient classic which I've not yet read.
Jo Ann Hall
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this and was tickled by its nod to The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales, but was frequently distracted by editors' misses. (How does spellcheck overlook the word "beacuse" three times?) The best, most integrated stories are from the Ex-Vicar's wife (a ghost story) and the tale of the stepmother.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-book
I enjoyed parts of the book here and there. It was mostly a bunch of self-centered unsympathetic women with a couple of exceptions. I had the audio book version and it was well read, but I almost didn't finish it. Stuck with it and the last couple of stories held my attention. Mostly glad it is over.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
although i admire this writer's wit and breadth of knowledge and opinions, i just cannot recommend this book. i found it hard to finish, but just interesting enough not to abandon. it had too many different characters, very very loosely tied together except by their cynical views of men and relationships.
May 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories kind of pulled together into one story. Became very boring mid way through. I rarely can not finish a book once Ive started it but it was a struggle to get through this one. ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just started this one, and it's intriguing so far. I like the characters and it's a pleasure to read. I'm usually a sucker for books written about English characters. British English colloquialisms are just so bloody endearing.

So far so good....
Sarah S. Smee
I love the concept of a modern retelling of the Decameron. In this case, it is wittily and cleverly done. Something is lost in bringing the stories up to date; instead of a charming peek into times long gone, The Spa emphasizes the messiness and dissatisfaction of modern life.
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Fay Weldon CBE is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of British society.

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