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The Millstone by Margaret Drabble

The Millstone (1965)

by Margaret Drabble

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7672118,253 (3.82)73
  1. 10
    The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble (KayCliff)
  2. 10
    The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks (KayCliff)
  3. 10
    Poor Cow by Nell Dunn (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books are about young mothers in 1960s London, and although there are many similarities, there are more differences. Drabble wrote the introduction to the Virago edition of Poor Cow.
  4. 00
    Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald (tandah)

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» See also 73 mentions

English (20)  Spanish (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
That tagline Rosamund is clever, very independent - and pregnant, whilst accurate as a pitch of the book, turns out to be quite reductive. Rosamund is all those things but as a reader privy to her ongoing internal monologue as well as her external interactions, - in particular her preoccupation of appearing independent, and presenting her personality as she expects others to see her, - we uncover a character that we not only can root for but also relate to.

The light-hearted, flippant style (which seems common in post-war female English writers) of the first half belied the emotional depth and maturity that the book ended on, reflective of Rosamund's own personal growth. The last time I was tricked by such an emotional about-face was The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer where I was rendered into a silently weepy mess on a plane. But unlike Mortimer's claustrophobic portrayal of what womanhood and motherhood entails, Drabble allows for a portrayal that was most freeing combined with a lot of wishful-thinking while just remaining on this side of realistic.

Things do go much smoother for Rosamund than imaginably possible, with consequences minimum, and support a-plenty. Some might complain about the unlikeliness of such convenient resolutions to all possible conflicts and the privileges afforded to Rosamund as an educated daughter of well-off parents, but I for one am just glad to have a non-tragic pregnant-and-unmarried-in-the-1960s story. ( )
  kitzyl | May 8, 2018 |
This was my first novel by Margaret Drabble, and I realize I have been missing out! Set in 1960s London, a young, well educated, and very independent woman becomes pregnant and comes to terms with her life and herself through her deep and surprised love for her child. Well written and a pleasure to read. ( )
  hemlokgang | Mar 22, 2018 |
having a baby and keeping it in UK 1960s. enjoyed it
  MarilynKinnon | Apr 25, 2017 |
I love all things Drabble, especially early Drabble. This novel was a new read to me - definitely ahead of it's time in dealing with sexuality, pregnancy, unwed motherhood and abortion but with that early Drabble heroine - plucky, smart, self-aware, and not one to suffer fools.

After reading her first three novels in the last week or so, it's a bit like sharing a good gossip with a friend over a whiskey or two and there are certainly worse ways to spend time. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Margaret Drabble's consistently high-calibre output of fiction, biography and scholarly writing over a career spanning more than fifty years is remarkable. Of special note are her iconic novels of the 1960s: in which, while still in her twenties, she established herself as one of the most literate and psychologically astute voices of her generation. The Millstone is her third novel, published in 1965 when the author was twenty-six. Rosamund Stacey, a young graduate student writing a thesis on the English Romantic poets, maintains a solitary and emotionally isolated existence in her parents' flat in London (her parents are living in Africa). Rigorously intellectual and self-aware, she’s plotted out her neat and tidy life every step of the way. Even the romantic involvements she’s permitted herself are planned and calculated for minimum fuss and muss: she goes on occasional outings to pubs and movies with two different men, neither of whom she finds particularly attractive and each of whom is under the impression she’s sleeping with the other—the result being that neither pressures her for a physical liaison or deeper commitment. But even Rosamund can’t control forever her own desire for human connection, and one night she meets a man in a bar, gets tipsy, brings him to her flat, and they have sex. It’s her one and only sexual encounter, and against the odds she discovers she’s pregnant. It’s at this point that her analytical approach to living breaks down and she begins questioning her motives and objectives. Reason dictates that she have an abortion and put the episode behind her. But almost without reaching the decision consciously, and without any help from her family and with very little from her friends, she foregoes this option and proceeds resolutely onward, making arrangements for the birth and for the presence in her life of someone who will depend on her for everything. Drabble’s assured narrative—first person from Rosamund’s perspective—is touching, thoroughly engrossing, psychologically penetrating, and sometimes very funny, as the middle-class intellectual in Rosamund struggles with feelings and passions that often take her by surprise, and is shocked again and again to discover how profoundly ignorant she is about life in the trenches. Drabble’s voice in this book is refined and mature and never lets the reader down. Her later novels are longer and more complex, but by any measure The Millstone remains a literary accomplishment of the first order. ( )
  icolford | Jul 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
But to see this book as primarily about the sexual revolution, illegitimacy, and the swinging London of the 1960s, is to miss its point. The Millstone is about liberal guilt. It is perhaps one of the most philosophical books written on the subject, full of the sly profundity that is sometimes the special strength of spare, comic novels.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Drabbleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, AllenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Showalter, ElaineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My career has always been marked by a strange mixture of confidence and cowardice; almost, one might say, made by it.
[Lydia is a writer, blocked. Asked why she doesn't write a book:]

`I can't', she wailed. `I try to. I begin them but I can't finish. How I
envy you, your work is always there, you know what's got to be done, it's
all there outside you ... I wish I didn't have to go on dragging it out of
myself like a dirty great spider.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156006197, Paperback)

Margaret Drabble’s affecting novel, set in London during the 1960s, about a casual love affair, an unplanned pregnancy, and one young woman’s decision to become a mother.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:20 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Rosamund Stacey finds herself pregnant after her only sexual encounter. Despite her fierce independence and academic brilliance, Rosamund is naive and unworldly, and the choices before her are terrifying." -- Back cover.

» see all 5 descriptions

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