Like Doris Lessing, that genius of the forcefully "creating" work of fiction, Miss Drabble presents characters who are not passively witnessing their lives (and ours); she is not a writer who reflects the helplessness of the stereotyped "sick society," but one who has taken upon herself the task, largely ignored today, of attempting the active, vital, energetic, mysterious re-creation of a set of values by which human beings can live (Joyce Carol Oates)
Drabble excels at describing the minute detail of human behaviour (Independent)
Brought up in a stifling, emotionless home in the north of England, Clara finds freedom when she wins a scholarship and travels to London. There, she meets Clelia and the rest of the Denham family: brilliant and charming, they dazzle Clara with their flair for life, and Clara yearns to be part of their bohemian world. But while she will do anything to join their circle, she gives no thought to the chaos that she may cause...
In this captivating story of growing up and moving on, Margaret Drabble explores what it means to leave a disregarded childhood and family behind.
WINNER of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction