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The Pure Gold Baby

The Pure Gold Baby [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Drabble
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Description


* Drabble writes so penetratingly about the female condition that it is impossible not to laugh, wince and admire -- Amanda Craig New Statesman * One of the most thought-provoking and intellectually challenging writers around Financial Times * The novels brim with sharply observed life and the author's seemingly infinite sympathy for "ordinary women" -- Joyce Carol Oates The New Yorker * Drabble excels at describing the minute detail of human behaviour Independent * Drabble's generous and unsentimental truthfulness to the condition of childhood is very rare Guardian * Drabble expertly charts the way our childhood experiences inform and shape us throughout our lives Spectator on The Sea Lady * Marvellous, utterly engrossing Guardian on The Sea Lady * Her short stories glimmer with the irony, lyricism, moral vision and amplitude we associate with Drabble's novels New York Times on A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman * An unusual, engaging and yet tantalising memoir The Times on The Pattern in the Carpet * Margaret Drabble's The Needle's Eye is an extraordinary work: It not only tells a story deftly, beautifully, with a management of past and present (and future) action that demonstrates Miss Drabble's total mastery of the mysterious form of the novel, but it succeeds in so re-creating the experiences of her characters that we soon forget they are fictional beings... and we become them, we are transformed into them, so that by the end of the novel we have lived, through them, a very real, human and yet extraordinary experience -- Joyce Carol Oates New York Times on The Needle's Eye

Book Description

Margaret Drabble returns with a powerful novel of unbreakable love, enduring friendships and a society changing forever

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Spanning a period of fifty years from the 1960s to the present day, Margaret Drabble's latest novel tells the story of Jess Speight, an anthropologist, who becomes pregnant during an affair with a married professor. The professor hastily leaves the scene and Jess becomes a single mother; she puts her career on hold, sets up home in North London, and manages to get by working as a freelance writer: "She wrote quickly, easily, at an academic or popular level. She became an armchair, study-bound, library-dependent anthropologist." When Jess's baby, Anna, is born, the pure gold baby of the title, she is a peaceful, contented child, ready to smile at everyone and everything around her and is no trouble at all. However, after a time, Jess notices that Anna is not developing at the same rate as other children of the same age, and although she hopes that Anna is merely a late developer, she knows her child is different. And Jess is right; Anna is different and, after visits to doctors, she is identified as a child with special needs. (No spoilers, we learn all of this early on in the novel).

Narrated by Jess's friend, Eleanor, as she looks back over the years, 'The Pure Gold Baby' is the story of Jess's and Anna's journey together and the sacrifices and the decisions Jess has to make for Anna. During the course of the story, through Eleanor, we learn not just about Jess's and Anna's shared life, but also the lives of the group of friends around them; we read of love affairs, separations, illness, death, successes and failures. We also read about famous literary figures who had to face difficulties when members of their family experienced problems with developmental issues, including Jane Austen, Doris Lessing, Arthur Miller and Pearl Buck.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars dreary book 3 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed with this book I found if difficult to sympathise with any of the characters. The lifeless account of the narrators friend's life with her mentally disabled child left me unmoved . It felt like a tale of a relentless moan of a life amidst minor intellectuals . That's just my opinion. Read it if you have such a child in your life somewhere and see how you feel .
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not vintage Drabble 4 Dec 2013
No one could love most of Margaret Drabble's novels more than I do. I was moved to tears by both The Radiant Way and The Middle Ground and have loved many others. This characters in this novel seemed poorly developed and mere excuses to wax forth about mental illness, admittedly an important subject. BUT... I felt somewhat as one of the reviewers of Thinks by David Lodge once said: the characters are basically "talking heads" although in this case perhaps a level worse because the narrator mostly carries the load. Where are the characters who can speak for themselves and who are not vehicles for a platform?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pure Gold? 10 Mar 2014
I wanted to very much to fall in love with The Pure Gold Baby. Unfortunately it didn't work for me. Even with a slow-burning novel, readers expect a big reveal. Since the narrator of the story is told by largely mystery third party (she is only named half-way through the book), I had it in mind that her identity and/or relationship with Jess and Anna would be the surprise I was waiting for. There were also hints that one of the children of the group of friends was going to go off the rails. Instead, Margaret Drabble paints a portrait of an era. A mother-daughter relationship, in which one doesn't get inside the heads of the main characters because of the choice of narrator. There are love affairs, tragedies, and depictions of events both large and small, but I didn't really feel involved in any of them. Perhaps if Jess had been allowed to narrate her own story, I would have felt differently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Up Baby 22 Jan 2014
By ACB (swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Jess Speight, a young anthropologist, returns from Zambia where she has been studying a genetic mutation, back to London and the swinging sixties. She becomes pregnant by her supervising professor who promptly does a disappearing act shortly after daughter Anna is born. The narrative is provided from a distance by Jess's friend, Eleanor. It gradually becomes clear that Anna is slow in her mental development although the exact nature of the underlying problem is never revealed. Single mother Jess and Anna's journey takes the reader from the 1960's to the present day. Eleanor flicks between past and present tense. Jess remains fiercely independent whilst sharing her life with the lovable Anna who is totally dependent on Jess.

From Eleanor's narration, we learn of the people surrounding Jess, of motherhood, treatment of mental illness, affairs, marriage, divorces, ageing, death, blurring of memories and senses. The rich developing relationship and lives of Jess and Anna, how they interact and are affected by Anna's disability are central to the novel interweaving famous figures with family members with disabilities, including David Livingston, the novelists Jane Austen and Pearl Buck. Not overly sentimental nor melodramatic, the author's strength is in her shrewdness, observation and character insight; how we interpret our inner lives and what it means to live a meaningful life with the transition into the very different modern times. A stirring, intelligently written book. Not Margaret Drabble's best but a meaningful and enjoyable read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
Well written, easy reading but addressed issues re the treatment of children with special needs very sensitively. The characters were easy to relate to.
Published 3 months ago by Belinda Shear
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, lyrical, focussed
How do we come to terms with our lives, how do we adapt to our own inner weaknesses and strengths of mind and body and character? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gerard P.
4.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written account of how it was......
The story almost exactly matched my own time as a mother . As a teacher I became deeply concerned with how we treated autism. Read more
Published 4 months ago by lesley jefferies
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
It is a book written, I felt, for older women. The times and dilemmas of the main characters were of a period - sixties/seventies - which were important times in the last century. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nell
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle North London story, taking in Africa
This is a gentle North London story with trips to visit livingstons Africa. The pure gold baby grows older but does not grow up.
Published 4 months ago by Laurian Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an age
It’s quite a while since I read a Margaret Drabble book and I’d forgotten just what a good writer she is, and with this her latest novel she’s certainly on top form. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amanda Jenkinson
4.0 out of 5 stars lyrical, but unfocused
London, early 1960s. Young anthropologist Jess has an affair with a married professor. The affair leads to pregnancy, childbirth of a pretty girl Anna, but the birth of the child... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ray Garraty
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
An strange method of writing - took some time to get into the book and adapt to the 'flash backs'.
Published 6 months ago by Singing Dorabella
1.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing
As a first draft for a novel this would make a starting point for a writer as talented as Margaret Drabble. Read more
Published 6 months ago by j.s.pullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Drabble
This is a book which, stealthily, engages your attention and holds it, right to the last word - one of those books one does not want to finish (and the cover design is perfect).
Published 6 months ago by madiepet
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