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The Pumpkin Eater


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"The Pumpkin Eater "is a surreal black comedy about the wages of adulthood and the pitfalls of parenthood. A nameless woman speaks, at first from the precarious perch of atherapist's couch, and her smart, wry, confiding, immensely sympathetic voice immediately captures and holds our attention. She is the mother of a vast, swelling brood of children, also nameless, and the wife ofa successful screenwriter, Jake Armitage. The Armitages live in the city, but they are building a great glass tower in the country in which to settle down and live happily ever after. But could that dream be nothing morethan a sentimental delusion? At the edges of vision the spectral children come and go, while our heroine, alert to the countless gradations of depression and the innumerable forms of betrayal, tries to make sense of itall: doctors, husbands, movie stars, bodies, grocery lists, nursery rhymes, messes, aging parents, memories, dreams, and breakdowns. How to pull it all together? Perhaps you start by falling apart.

About the Author

Penelope Mortimer (1918–1999) was born Penelope Ruth Fletcher in North Wales, the younger of two children of an Anglican clergyman father and his wife. The family moved often, and Penelope was educated at half a dozen institutions before spending a year at the University of London. In 1937 she married the journalist Charles Dimont, with whom she had two daughters. Two more daughters by two different men would follow before, in 1949, she divorced Dimont and married the barrister, novelist, and playwright John Mortimer, with whom she had another daughter and her only son. The Mortimers were celebrated as “the last word in marital chic,” but the marriage was tumultuous and the couple divorced in 1972. In addition toThe Pumpkin Eater(1962), madeinto a 1964 film from a screenplay by Harold Pinter and starringAnne Bancroft andPeter Finch, Mortimer published several othernovels, includingDaddy’s Gone A-Hunting(1958),Long Distance(1974), andThe Handyman(1983); a travel book co-authored withJohn Mortimer,With Love and Lizards(1957); and a biography ofthe Queen Mother. She also served as a film critic for theLondonObserverand was a regular contributor of short stories toThe NewYorker.The first volume of her autobiographyAbout Time(1979)was awarded the Whitbread Prize and was followed byAbout TimeToo(1993).

Daphne Merkin is the author ofEnchantment, a novel andDreaming of Hitler,a collection of essays. Her cultural criticismhas appeared in a range of publications, includingVogueandThe

American Scholar, and has been widely anthologized. She has beena staff writer forThe New Yorker, and is currently a contributingwriter atElleandThe New York Times Magazine. She lives in NewYork City, where she teaches writing, and is at work on a memoir,Melancholy Baby.

Product Details

New York Review of Books
Fiction : Literary
Merkin, Daphne
Mortimer, Penelope
Publication Date:
April 2011

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Pumpkin Eater
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Product details 224 pages New York Review of Books - English 9781590174005 Reviews:
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