Synopses & Reviews
In a “profoundly moving, intellectually acute” novel (Philadelphia Inquirer) that is “as meticulous as Jane Austen, as deadly as Evelyn Waugh” (Los Angeles Times), Margaret Drabble conjures up a retired writer besieged by her three grasping children in this dazzling, wickedly gothic tale.
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.
Reading Group Guide
Q> The novel opens with the Palmers and their in-laws playing David D'Anger's game, "The Veil of Ignorance." Why does their participation in this game seem ironic as we come to know them better? Do all of the tragedies that later befall the family stem from ignorance or bad luck? Q> David's son Benjamin has created Decapolis, a game of death and destruction. What do we learn about Benjamin from this game? Does he really have supernatural power or just a good imagination? Q> Are we supposed to read The Witch of Exmoor as a modern cautionary tale? What aspects of Western society do you think the author is specifically cautioning us about? Q> Do you think that families like the Palmers, Herzes, and D'Angers really exist or is their dysfunction exaggerated simply to tell a good story? Q> Is Frieda driven to isolation by an unjust society or her painful past? She serves Bumperburgers to her family to demonstrate her contempt for the society that created them. Yet we later learn that she profits from stock in the company. Is she a hypocrite? Q> In the scene in the afterlife, is Frieda's claim that she had no idea that leaving her estate to Benjamin would ruin him believable? Is she cruel or simply mischievous? What is significant about Frieda, Belle, and Nathan playing "The Veil of Ignorance" in the afterlife? Q> Does David D'Anger ultimately give up wanting to create "The Just Society" or is he finally accepting his own limitations? Why is it significant that David cancels his trip to Guyana and that Will Paine leaves Jamaica? Q> Rosemary and Gogo seem to be transformed by the family's many tragedies. Is redemption really possible for anyone in this family? Is there hope for the next generation of Palmers? Is the ending of The Witch of Exmoor hopeful or is modern society doomed even to an unenlightened afterlife? Copyright (c) 1998. Published by Harcourt, Inc.