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The Realms of Gold [Hardcover]

Margaret Drabble

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Book Description

Oct 1975
Frances Wingate is a woman much given to living in the past. As an eminent archaeologist she travels widely giving lectures on ancient history. As a woman she is eaten away with regrets that she ended her relationship with Karel - for reasons that no longer seem valid.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf; First Edition US edition (Oct 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394498771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394498775
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 841,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1939, and is the younger sister of A.S. Byatt. Margaret's novel THE MILLSTONE won the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize and she was granted a Society of Author's Travelling Fellowship in the mid-1960's. She received the James Tait Black and the E.M. Forster awards, and was awarded the CBE in 1980. She has three children and lives in London with her second husband, biographer Michael Holroyd. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel of travels and returns rewards intellect, emotion. 15 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This novel begins slowly, with a woman scholar in a foreign city, due to give a lecture, suffering a toothache. The pace accelerates as she returns to England, travels to a conference in Africa, then returns abruptly for a totally unpredictable family crisis. Competent, confident she settles all that can be settled, faces what cannot, and finds personal restoration in lasting love. A historian, an archeologist, and a geologist settle into their own visions of time, as the most suitable ending evolves itself. A stimulating reflection, a wonderful story, a great work of narrative control, by far my favorite Drabble of all.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected 23 Sep 2005
By R. Silverman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was a bit hesitant to get into this novel -- must be my problem -- due to its being published in the late '70's, but a novel very much in the present. Sorry, but the '70's as "the present" didn't seem that charming.

But I stuck with it. First of all, Margaret Drabble's command of the English language is quite impressive. Her passion for her characters is undeniable and their passions begin to rub off on you.

I won't get into the plot -- I hate reading plots before I start a book, but I suggest you try this novel. It shows the mindset of the English as they entered the last quarter of the 20th century, and you see that the petty concerns and worries are not that much different from today. If there is a complaint, it would be that there lacks a certain immediacy in the writing; both writer and reader end up being quite a distance from the action, but the passion of the writer pulls you through in the end.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Serious, Realistic, Funny, Nonjudgmental Novel 19 April 2013
By Dirk van Nouhuys - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a very agreeable book, fun, instructive, and pleasant to read. It follows the life of a well-to-do (through a previous marriage), successful, and rather scattered archaeologist. There is an overarching plot question whether she will get back together with her previous lover, but it concerns us only intermittently. She has four children who play a surprisingly small role in her life. Drabble gives considerable attention to her parents, her brother, his children, and other relatives on her father's side. One of them is a depressingly ordinary provincial housewife, not as interesting as Emma Bovary, who provides a kind of foil to the protagonist. While Emma was reading romances, cousin Janet is reading John Updike. Drabble pays a lot of attention to her professional life and her archeology of Carthaginian-Meroetic trade routs is convincing and interesting, as her conferences are convincing and amusing. Drabble portrays the characters with witty and sometimes lighthearted realism. Deeply influenced as we all are, willy-nilly, by psychodynamic theory, we tend to expect deep motivation in serious novels, and Drabble sketches in such motivation, but, like the tension of the protagonist's love affair, it is mostly in the background. Her family evidently has a depressive gene, and her lover had a terrible childhood in Central Europe, but, as in real life, what moves characters to action tends to be more momentary issues, what is going on scene-to-scene. This day-to-day impetus seems to me realistic (Don't forget Drabble did her dissertation on Arnold Bennet) and even liberating, although some might call the book weak on motivation. The writing is mostly good, often witty, and occasionally lovely. The book has some very funny scenes, for example the provincial cousin's dinner party. I laughed aloud several times, particularly scenes involving the lover's false teeth, which the protagonist carries as a keepsake. The lover sometimes beats up his wife (who eventually leaves him for some one else), although in general he is an almost obsessively nice guy. These fisticuffs certainly raise issues about Drabble's standing as a feminist, which she is generally accounted, even considering the attitudes when it was written -- the late 60's or early 70's. The protagonist, certainly a very likable character, is sanguine about their battles. It is not quite clear how Drabble feels. The protagonist also drinks too much and her brother drinks much too much; that's just the way it is. This novel combines a serious look at several slices of British society with an intelligent, nonjudgmental perspective.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant female heroine! 17 July 2014
By Kirsten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a great pleasure to me because I love that the main character, Frances Wingate, is wholeheartedly herself without being confined by feminine stereotypes or even seeming to react to them. She is a successful academic, financially independent, a loving though detached mother whose moods and actions are motivated by the present moment. She is one of the few female literary characters who doesn't allow social/ cultural pressures to dictate the course of her life. Certainly she has enough romantic pressures and family pressures to keep her busy... Her passionate, though often melancholy, on-off romance with a married man and at the beginning of the story they are estranged. While her long-term goal is to reunite with him, she is consistently distracted by family dramas, such as the public scandal of a long-forgotten elderly relative found dead. Her cousin Janet acts as the counterfoil for Frances' independence - stuck at home with a baby and an unpleasant husband, she is initially demoralised by the hopelessness of her existance, but thankfully develops some spirit and autonomy in the course of the book.
The book also provides an unforgiving snapshot of the 70s when it was unremarkable for kind gentle men to hit their wives or throw dinner plates, and everyone was going to commit adultery within 5 years of marriage anyway. Apart from this, the characters are real three-dimensional people and the insight into 70s mindset is intriguing rather than disturbing. While Drabble concentrates on the moment at hand with humorous character sketches and scene detail, her characters are also morbidly conscious of their mortality. The book is funny, sad, thought-provoking and, in an unassuming way, inspiring. It is a book I will always return to read again.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life's rich tapestry 19 Mar 2011
By Vital Spark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Another fine Margaret Drabble novel, though definitely not my favorite.
The first third is taken up with the anger, regret, and sadness of the main character, Frances, who is kicking herself for breaking up with Karel, the man she loves.
The middle part concerns the boredom, fear and despair of a young woman, the mother of a difficult, unhappy, teething baby, married to a nasty, narrow-minded bully of a verbally abusive husband.
The last third mainly concerns the trials and tribulations of Karel, married to a crazy woman, still desperately in love with Frances ,deeply depressed because she broke up with him, not knowing that she has sent him a postcard ,re-affirming her love,the postcard delayed because of a nine-month postal strike.(They do get back together, but not until page 344.)
Just when things seem to be looking up, one of the most sympathetic characters, takes himself into the woods with a fatal dose of sleeping pills for himself and his little baby, and commits suicide. Their bodies are discovered ten days later.
Joyce Carol Oates says The Realms of Gold is Margaret Drabble's "richest, most rewarding novel", and I believe that Margaret Drabble is incapable of writing a bad novel; however, she herself says that reading about depression is depressing,which, I'm afraid, sums up my feelings about Realms of Gold.
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