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The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws
Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Margaret Drabble
“Reading Margaret Drabble’s novels has become something of a rite of passage . . . [They are] sharply observed, exquisitely companionable tales of women of a certain age and class, educated, egocentric, strong, unlucky in love.”—Washington Post
“Gorgeous writing . . . [Drabble’s] flawed and oh-so-human characters appall and enthrall.”—Boston Globe
“As meticulous as Jane Austen, and as deadly as Evelyn Waugh.”—Los Angeles Times
“Margaret Drabble will have done for late-twentieth-century London what Dickens did for Victorian London.”—New York Times
“The intensity, the seriousness, the playfulness—I loved, and still love, these characteristics of Drabble’s work, as I do the sense of a writer continually interrogating the nature of the world, and of our place in it.”—Andrea Barrett
"Part memoir, part rigorously researched historical perspective, Drabble's book is a multi-layered look at jigsaw puzzles and their role through the ages for society, individuals, and herself; it's also a charming homage to Drabble's beloved Auntie Phyl, who passed her lifelong love of jigsaws on to Drabble. Alongside memories that appear 'in bright colours and clear blocks, like the large pieces of a child's wooden jigsaw,' Drabble takes a survey of games in literature and art, including Brueghel's 1560 'Children's Games,' a complex illustration featuring more than 90 games; and spends much time considering their psychological importance. Readers will probably be surprised, as Drabble was, to learn that jigsaws were originally connected to education rather than amusement; since then, the idea has become one of the 'quasi-educational apologia for the doing of jigsaws,' the idea that 'you learn about the brush strokes of Van Gogh, the clouds of Constable,' etc., from puzzling them together. (Indeed, 'Doing jigsaws stimulates bizarre theories of art history.') While fascinating, Drabble's highly intellectual, highly British study will pose a special challenge for American audiences. Readers unafraid of doing some extra work will be richly rewarded." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A collection of the famed UK novelist Margaret Drabble's complete short stories.
A beautifully written and deeply personal book, a mix of memoir, jigsaw history, and the strange delights of puzzling.
Margaret Drabble’s novels have illuminated the past fifty years, especially the changing lives of women, like no others. Yet her short fiction, never before collected, has its own unique brilliance. Her penetrating evocations of character and place, her wide-ranging curiosity, her sense of irony, all are on display here in stories that explore marriage, female friendships, the English tourist abroad, love affairs with houses, peace demonstrations, gin and tonics, cultural TV programs—stories that are perceptive, sharp, and funny. An introduction by the scholar José Fernández ably places the stories in the context of Drabble’s life and her novels. This collection is a wonderful recapitulation of a masterly career.
The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws is an original and brilliant work. Margaret Drabble weaves her own story into a history of games, in particular jigsaws, which have offered her and many others relief from melancholy and depression. Alongside curious facts and discoveries about jigsaw puzzles — did you know that the 1929 stock market crash was followed by a boom in puzzle sales? — Drabble introduces us to her beloved Auntie Phyl, and describes childhood visits to the house in Long Bennington on the Great North Road, their first trip to London together, the books they read, the jigsaws they completed. She offers penetrating sketches of her parents, her siblings, and her children; she shares her thoughts on the importance of childhood play, on art and writing, on aging and memory. And she does so with her customary intelligence, energy, and wit. This is a memoir like no other.
About the Author
MARGARET DRABBLE is the author of The Sea Lady, The Seven Sisters, The Peppered Moth, and The Needle's Eye, among other novels. For her contributions to contemporary English literature, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2008.
Table of Contents
Note on the Present Edition xxi
Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1
Hassan’s Tower 7
A Voyage to Cythera 23
Faithful Lovers 41
A Pyrrhic Victory 53
Crossing the Alps 63
The Gifts of War 85
A Success Story 103
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman 115
The Merry Widow 151
The Dower House at Kellynch:
A Somerset Romance 169
The Caves of God 193
A Topographical Tale 207
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