Exhibit 1.1.24

A Perfectly Lovely Book


I don’t have much more to say about it though I guess some comment should be made about just how odd Margaret Drabble’s book’s plotting is. There’s a lot here that could be conflict but isn’t, just as the primary conceit of the book (a not particularly young but pretty and highly educated woman gets pregnant her first time having sex) could be treated as some kind of “ironical” misfortune but isn’t. In fact, early on two characters discuss their pregnancies in terms of Thomas Hardy’s Life’s Little Ironies and their differing conclusions inform the book only slightly less than the fact that, in both cases, everything worked out perfectly. …and everything worked out perfectly is a strange concept to build a plot around, but there it is.

Well, okay, “perfectly,” is maybe overstating it, but as well as could be expected if not slightly better. In some ways the book reminded me of a sitcom. Joey is not going to unexpectedly die in a mugging on the way home from Central Perk. We know things will work out fine and we watch to see our reassurances played out.

Who knows if Ms. Drabble had the will to do something awful to her characters, but she certainly didn’t have the desire. Yet somehow the book works on the strength of its sensitive, smart, and funny narrator. There’s real charm in how everything that should be a negative she somehow twists into a positive. Having an illegitimate child in the 1960s? No problem, because now the narrator can love. Being a single mother? She can enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement with a friend. Telling the parents? Someone else can do it.

The book is quite aware of its positivity and a great percentage of the words are spent inside the narrator’s mind pondering her situation and how, though it might clash with both the staid conventions of an older generation and the freer beliefs of her own, it is nevertheless a good one. The point seems to be that she can have a child on her own terms and still be happy and successful and free. As a political point, it’s now an old one (if not a little silly given we’re talking about a profoundly privileged character), but a great deal of the book seems intended to present a different side of the more familiar depictions of Swinging London. The narrator is clearly of an age and social standing where she should, like her friends, use the era’s hedonism to liberate herself yet instead chooses to do it by redefining domesticity and motherhood and love. I feel, I think, reassured.

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