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Jerusalem the Golden (Penguin Modern Classics)

Jerusalem the Golden (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Drabble , Lisa Allardice
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Description


An extraordinary work (The New York Times)

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)

Product Description

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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 388 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005MI7PHQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,226 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars. Simply Wonderful. 10 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Margaret Drabble's wonderful novel `Jerusalem the Golden', was the winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction when it was first published, so I am very pleased to see that some of her earlier novels are being reprinted as Penguin Classics.

The novel centres on Clara Maugham, a young woman in her last year of university, having escaped from her dreary home in the suburban Yorkshire town of Northam. The first part of the story tells us of Clara's lonely childhood and how she has been brought up by an embittered mother who seems, to Clara, to have no purpose in life other than to criticize others and make her life difficult. Clara hates the way her mother looks down on their neighbours, wearily noting that it doesn't matter what one says or does, her mother will always find something reprehensible in it. Clara longs to escape from the depressing influence of her mother and, as the years pass, she begins to realize there is a way out of her tedious life. Clara develops into an attractive and intelligent young woman, who works hard, passes her exams and leaves home to go off to London University to study languages.

In London, at an after theatre drinks party, Clara meets the beautiful and elegant Clelia Denham and she is very keen to start a friendship with her. Clelia is part of a delightful, artistic, bohemian family who own a large and beautiful house in Highgate, full of books, old mirrors, faded Turkish carpets and wonderful eclectic pieces of furniture. Mrs Denham is a writer, Mr Denham a poet and Clelia is an artist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich engrossing novel 6 Dec 2011
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
First published in 1967 "Jerusalem the Golden" tells the story of Clara, a student living in London trying to escape a loveless childhood and a monstrous mother. Clara is a compelling character: when we first meet her she seems shy and unsure of herself, but as the novel progresses Drabble reveals more and more until we see her in all her wonderful frightening complexity.

The novel's other focus is the large bohemian Denham family. Clara falls in love with them and their rambling art-filled Highgate home. Their environment is so unfamiliar, intense, and loving that Clara is physically sick after spending time in it. Regarding the fraternal love on display in the home, Drabble writes: "She had read of it in the classics, as she had read of human sacrifices and necrophilia and incest".

I enjoyed every moment of this rich and sometimes disturbing book. Although the novel is very much of its time, the vivid and real depiction of Clara's inner life never feels dated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class wars !! 16 Aug 2012
By David H J Ashdown TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
An excellent story about a young womans journey from an oppressed childhood in a working class northern town to a hedonistic bohemian life with the Denham family in London. Clara is a language student nearing the conclusion of her studies in London when she meets Clelia whose life is the antithesis of hers, Claras life had , up until then, been dominated by her strict overbearing mother and she finds the freedom she experiences when she meets Clelias family refreshing.
Claras frienship with Gabriel , Clelias brother, gives her a taste on how the upper middle class conduct their affairs and she finds it refreshinly new and exciting when compared to her own upbringing.
I think Claras opinion of her mother may be unfair as towards the end we are led to believe that her mother, prior to her marriage, had entertained thoughts of escaping her "lot" but was afraid to do so for fear of going against her own strict moral sense of duty.
Clara demonstrates that if you have enough confidence it is possible to make the jump.
All in all a thought provoking and entertaining read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, beautifully written. 16 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This coming of age novel is restrained and detailed. Drabble writes prose that is intricate yet easy to read. Slightly disappointing ending; it seemed to just run out of steam. A good novel though; vintage Drabble!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life begins for Clara..... 24 Sep 2013
Clara Maugham is a bright young woman who is aware from early childhood of the oppressive dullness of her family background. Her mother is mean of spirit and unwilling to offer any praise or encouragement to her children. Although the family is by no means poor Clara is embarrassed by her surroundings. "The house was crowded by mock-useful objects, like pushbutton ashtrays (and in an unvisited house of non-smokers) and gadgets for watering plants and killing flies and dispelling odours and concealing rolls of lavatory paper and dicing potatoes and dispensing sugar."

As soon as she can Clara escapes to university in London - thanks in part to the state education system and the grants paid to students. (Those were the days!) In London she meets Clelia Denham - an artist who runs a gallery in Bond Street. She is overawed by the Denhams. Their home is huge and high-ceilinged and furnished with shabby but exotic things. The family members interact with real affection and camaraderie and are such a contrast to her own dull home and humourless mother. She is soon drawn to Gabriel, Clelia's beautiful brother - even though he has a wife and three children.

Clara is an instinctive feminist. An easy route for her would have been to find a suitable husband and marry and live happily ever after. But she does not slip into the role of compliant female partner. At an impromptu party Peter asks her if she would like to help him make some supper. "No, I wouldn't, she said sharply, I can't cook and I don't intend to try." Actually she does subsequently enter the kitchen and help but at least her point was made!

Jerusalem the Golden is a wonderful evocation of the sixties and of a young woman growing up. One small quibble: the book is written from the point of view of Clara but in Chapter 7 this shifts temporarily to Gabriel. I thought this was a bit jarring.

Highly recommended.
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