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Dame Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen novels including A Summer Bird-Cage, The Millstone, The Peppered Moth, The Red Queen, The Sea Lady and most recently, the highly acclaimed The Pure Gold Baby. She has also written biographies, screenplays and was the editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. She was appointed CBE in 1980, and made DBE in the 2008 Honours list. She was also awarded the 2011 Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature. She is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd.
Author photo © Ruth Corney
If you are a Margaret Drabble fan then you will know her strength is in characterisation. Here she concentrates on a family and elderly friends with the narrative switching between them as each character analyses the others. It is a novel about growing old and dying, centring mostly on a seventy-plus lady, Fran, working for a care charity. She has two children, one in the Canary Islands licking his wounds after the unexpected death of his lover and the other in the West Country. For a novel which is not crime there are a surprising number of deaths. The author beautifully captures the emotions and actions of the elderly, the signs of aging that only they notice in themselves and their thoughts of death. But this is not a depressing or morbid book, rather it is an insightful and very moving one which is actually in a way comforting. There is a good deal of symbolism and stunning imagery which is coloured with historical, artistic, literary and cultural references, a joy to read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
The Pure Gold Baby is the story of Anna, a little girl with a luminescent quality, her mother, Jess, and the community that envelops them. A happy child, Anna is the unchanging core of this journey spanning decades and continents through the lives of those that love her. This profoundly engaging portrait of family, friendship, and the way we care for each other is a powerful reminder, if one were needed, of Margaret Drabble's literary greatness.
In The Pattern in the Carpet the award-winning and beloved writer Margaret Drabble explores her own family story alongside the history of her favourite childhood pastime - the jigsaw. The result is an original and moving personal history about remembrance, growing older, the importance of play and the ways in which we make sense of our past by ornamenting our present.
Emma, a young wife and mother living in London at the end of the Swinging Sixties, has been offered an exciting job - she is to be one of the first female newsreaders. Intelligent and attractive, with a passion for facts and a mild yearning for notoriety, she can't wait. But then her husband David, an egocentric actor, demands that she accompany him to Herefordshire for a season at a provincial theatre festival. Faced with seven months of rural tedium, Emma begins to look elsewhere for entertainment, and finds her eyes settling on producer Wyndham. Full of charm and scandal, broken props and nasty bruises, The Garrick Year is a dazzling portrait of a marriage in crisis, and a woman determined to have more.
Frances Wingate is one of England's most renowned archaeologists, having recently unearthed a lost city in the Saharan desert. On the outside, she appears to have it all. But beneath the surface, she is struggling to deal with the demands of children and family, as well as a tumultuous, on-again, off-again romance with a married historian. Frances throws herself into work and travel, but when a tragedy forces her to return to England, to the flat countryside of her forebears, she discovers some surprising connections that offer her a chance to start again.
Kate Armstrong, successful journalist and spokesperson for many women, is worn out. A mother, daughter, friend and betrayed lover - she has embraced life to the full - but now in her forties, divorced, with her children preparing to leave, she finds herself at a crossroads. Along with her inner circle: her ex-lover and doctor of sorts, Ted Stennett, his wife, social worker, Evelyn, and wounded adventurer Hugo Mainwaring, she begins to consider what the future might hold. Brilliantly perceptive and witty, The Middle Ground chronicles the joys - and crises - of family and professional life, and ultimately asks what it means to be a strong and independent woman and how to face the coming years. 'Fascinating . . . provocative and absorbing' New York Times 'Marvellous' New York Times Book Review
Anthony Keating, a middle-aged former BBC producer turned property developer, has had a terrible year. His undoubted talents have brought him a dodgily prosperous living, an estranged wife, a devoted mistress, several children and a heart attack. He is paralysed by his situation, as are his friends by theirs. Welcome to the Ice Age. In this brilliant tragicomedy, Margaret Drabble examines the complex state of Britain in the early 1970s - from the property crisis and collapsing economy to social unrest and a frozen culture. Darkly sardonic but brilliantly humane, The Ice Age tackles the anguish of thwarted hopes in search for new meaning.
Jane Gray, a poet whose husband leaves her shortly before the birth of their second child, considers herself a disaster area. That is, until the husband of her alter ego, cousin Lucy, climbs into her bed. Falling passionately in love for the first time, Jane finds her life transformed - but when a tragic accident exposes the affair to the world, she has to face the consequences ... The Waterfall is a powerful novel about desire and obsession, the violent conflicts of maternal and sexual love, and the extent to which we are free to challenge the cards dealt by the hand of fate. 'Brilliant . . . persistently cool and elegant' New York Times Book Review 'Margaret Drabble [is] a master of the quiet novel' Kirsty Gunn, Financial Times
A celebration of the drama and intensity of the mother-child relationship, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. It is the Swinging Sixties, and Rosamund Stacey is young and inexperienced at a time when sexual liberation is well on its way. She conceals her ignorance beneath a show of independence, and becomes pregnant as a result of a one night stand. Although single parenthood is still not socially acceptable, she chooses to have the baby rather than to seek an illegal abortion, and finds her life transformed by motherhood. 'Rosamund is marvellous, a true Drabble heroine . . . what spirit is here' Sunday Times 'One of our foremost women writers' Guardian 'The novelist who will have done for late twentieth-century London what Dickens did for Victorian London' The New York Times
Liz Headleand, Esther Breuer, and Alix Bowen have been friends since Cambridge. Twenty-five years later, life has led them all down very different paths. Liz is a successful and well-known psychiatrist with a full social life. Esther, an eccentric bohemian, is a renowned professor of Italian art. Alix, a Socialist, teaches English in a London prison. Over the course of five years, their lives are marked by affairs, divorce, remarriage, sexual exploration, and the great political and social turmoil of London in the 1980s. In this story, "e;rich, various, many tentacled, chockful of life"e; (Margaret Atwood, Ms.), Margaret Drabble shows us a rapidly changing world from these three rich and vastly different vantage points, and the friendship that holds them all together.
First published in 1965, The Millstone tells the story of Rosamund Stacey, who gets pregnant after a one night stand when she loses her virginity. An academic, Rosamund socialises in liberal, literary circles but has been secretly reserved about sex as well as feeling social guilt. When she discovers she is pregnant, she decides to keep the baby despite society's expectation for her to have an abortion as a single mother carrying an illegitimate child. Giving birth to a daughter, she is forced to adapt to life as a single mother - finding herself transformed in the process.
Now available in eBook. One hot summer afternoon in South Yorkshire, Faro sits at a lecture on genetic inheritance. She has travelled from London to the Northern mining town where generations of her family have lived and worked, to explore her own past. Decades before, in the early twentieth century, Bessie Bawtry also ponders her place in the world. A child of unusual determination and precocious intelligence, she longs for the day she will eventually escape the working class life her ancestor would never have dreamt of leaving. But like the peppered moth, will she adapt, or will she struggle as she finds herself disconnected from her inheritance?The Peppered Moth is an absorbing exploration of the way we are shaped by our environment and ancestry, told through the story of one family across generations through the twentieth century.
Now available in eBook. 1979. Three old Cambridge friends are brought together at a party to celebrate New Year's Eve, and the end of a decade. A portentous moment. A moment to reflect on what had seemed to be - and a moment to prophesy. Esther, Liz and Alix first met in Cambridge in the early fifties, a time when their futures held glittering promise. But with the dawn of the Thatcher era, everything changed. Now middle-aged, how will these confident women cope with the personal and professional challenges they will come to face?
Now available in eBook. While opening her post one dark morning, Liz Headleand was surprised to come across a package containing part of a human finger bone. When Liz Headleand receives a mysterious package full of papers - and a bone - she calmly recognises the handwriting of her old friend, the delicate, reticent, honourable novelist Stephen Cox who had vanished some years earlier. Sifting through the gaps and inconsistencies of memory, she begins to piece together a trail that took Stephen far away - to a bridge over a river on the border between Thailand and Cambodia and a time full of complexity and confusion. In this sequel to The Radiant Way and A Natural Curiosity, friends Liz, Alix and Esther are brought together again as they unravel Stephen's journey from London to Bangkok and Cambodia and the haunting story of what happened to him.
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