As you know, I read Patterns in the Carpet and really enjoyed it, so decided to read more Drabble.
I really struggled with this one. I had to renew my library copy (which is extremely unusual). I’m not sure if it was me or the book – I have been really busy…
Here is the blurb …
Freda Haxby is as famous for her writing as she is for her eccentricities. But for Daniel Palmer, Rosemary, Grace and their families, she is a monster mother. This is the story of an end-of-the-century family whose comfortable lives are disrupted by a succession of sinister events.
In this novel there is a lot of authorial intrusion. For example,
We are nearing the end. Soon we can go for the kill. Indeed, for the overkill. Frieda has killed Hilda, and we have killed Freida, and Benjamin has tried to kill himself. There will be one or two more deaths, but not many, some will survive.
I found this a bit annoying and distracting. The characters are very well-written, particularly Frieda, Benjamin and Emily. I can well imagine people having conversations about the ‘veil of ignorance’, earnestly trying to help people, but running out of patience and motivation. I want to say this is a novel for baby boomers or second wave feminists (you know the Germaine Greer generation), but that seems a bit flippant – maybe I should just say it doesn’t appeal to me.
More reviews …
I read a review of this book somewhere (probably The Australian Review) and thought it sounded interesting and then I found a copy on sale at Borders – it was meant to be.
The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws is an original and brilliant work. Margaret Drabble weaves her own story into a history of games, in particular jigsaws, which have offered her and many others relief from melancholy and depression. Alongside curious facts and discoveries about jigsaw puzzles — did you know that the 1929 stock market crash was followed by a boom in puzzle sales? — Drabble introduces us to her beloved Auntie Phyl, and describes childhood visits to the house in Long Bennington on the Great North Road, their first trip to London together, the books they read, the jigsaws they completed. She offers penetrating sketches of her parents, her siblings, and her children; she shares her thoughts on the importance of childhood play, on art and writing, on aging and memory. And she does so with her customary intelligence, energy, and wit. This is a memoir like no other.
This was a lovely book to read – part memoir part jigsaw history. There were anecdotes from her friends and acquaintances about their ‘jigsaw puzzling’. Drabble uses a chatty style – it is like you’re sitting at her table doing a puzzle together.
And yes, I did feel motivated to do a jigsaw puzzle. I like the idea that it is always possible to complete the puzzle you just need time and a bit of discipline.
I liked this book so much I’ve moved on to The Witch of Exmoor.
Here are some more reviews …