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The Seven Sisters (2002)

by Margaret Drabble

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6352125,772 (3.54)39
Candida Wilton has been ignored by her husband and children for years, before being displaced by a younger woman. Moving to London, alone, divorced and without much money, it seems she will now enjoy a life only of small pleasures- trips to the gym, visits to her reading group. When she receives an unexpected windfall, Candida gathers together six travelling companions - women friends from childhood, from married life and after - and maps out a journey she has long dreamed of, around Tunis, Naples and Pompeii, where her grey city lifecan blossom into one of colour and adventure. In The Seven Sisters, Margaret Drabble captures the wonder of second chances with dry wit, honesty and immaculate observation.… (more)

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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I almost gave up on this about half way in, until the Italian trip chapter, and overall the book turned into a 4 star. ( )
  danfango | Dec 4, 2018 |
not in CLAN, worth buying only if I face an upheaval
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
A slight but charming story of a divorcee and estranged mother finding friendship and fulfilment in late middle age ( )
  bodachliath | Jul 6, 2015 |
Candida Wilton is a woman of a certain age who finds herself divorced, distant from her three daughters, living alone in a small London flat, and somewhat at loose ends. She swims at a health club, picks up with acquaintances whom she met while taking a seminar on Dante's Inferno, and convinces them to take a trip to Sicily to visit the places mentioned by Dante.

The book is divided into four sections, each with a different viewpoint. The first and longest is Candida's diary that she has written to examine her life and situation -- it ends as she is about to embark on her Sicilian adventure:

I have just reread the whole of this diary. I am not proud of it. What a mean, self-righteous, self-pitying voice is mine. Shall I learn to speak in other tones and other tongues when I leave these shores? Do I still have it in me to find some happiness? Health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness. The new declaration of our human rights.

Let me write this down. I am happy now. I am full of happy anticipation.


The Seven Sisters is a novel full of literary allusions and sly nods to such classics as Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook and Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April. While it's not my favorite of Drabble's later novels, it was an entirely satisfying summer read. ( )
1 vote janeajones | Jun 30, 2014 |
The first, and longest section, of Seven Sisters is a computer diary written by an almost-60 year old woman who has been discarded by her family--her husband has divorced her for a more youthful woman, her grown daughters all have their own lives, and her own mother is fading away in a care home. Candida leaves small town Suffolk and moves to a liminal area of London. This section has some interesting bits about loneliness, frugality, and friendship. Candida runs into some money, everything looks brighter, and she's off with a group of friends to take an educational vacation retracing the steps of the Aeneid. The second section of the book covers the vacation, and interestingly the narrative now switches to the third person. There are a third and fourth section too, but this is where the novel goes off in an odd direction and I can't even begin to explain what the author is doing.

Yes, in the end the Seven Sisters leaves me with a few big questions. However, there is something about Margaret Drabble's writing that I just adore--the has a subtle cleverness that I think rewards the reader who is paying attention. Throughout reading this, I really did like it very much, even when it got sort of strange. This is the third Drabble I've read, and none of them have been the favourite of critics. I've liked them all and just look forward to reading more by her. ( )
  Nickelini | May 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
How successful would Margaret Drabble's publishing career be if she started out today? The doyenne of the "Hampstead dinner party" novel has become unfashionable, and this 2002 novel does not suggest that she was interested in reinventing herself.

Which is possibly why it works so beautifully. . . . Drabble possesses the rare and wonderful gift of making her characters seem utterly real.
 
The narrative takes several surprising turns, throwing the reader as off-center as Candida has become and proving that Candida herself has not been candid. But Drabble has: Candida's evasive account accurately charts the psychological territory of one who is suddenly cast adrift.
added by Nickelini | editPublishers Weekly (Sep 16, 2002)
 
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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