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The Pure Gold Baby por Margaret Drabble
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The Pure Gold Baby (original 2013; edição 2014)

por Margaret Drabble (Autor)

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2541582,560 (3.48)42
Her promising career in 1960s London interrupted by an affair with a married professor that renders her a single mother, Jessica Speight faces wrenching questions about responsibility, potential, and compassion when her sunny child reveals unique needs.
Título:The Pure Gold Baby
Autores:Margaret Drabble (Autor)
Informação:Canongate Books Ltd (2014), Edition: Main, 304 pages
Colecções:Tuppence, A sua biblioteca

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The Pure Gold Baby por Margaret Drabble (2013)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 15 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
not much happens in this novel. Jess has a mentally challenged daughter who is the pure gold baby. This novel is about their life together told by a third person who is a friend. A started skipping pages three quarters of way through this novel. ( )
  Smits | Jul 27, 2021 |
Drabble takes advantage of being in her seventies to write a novel with a very long time-base that has nothing at all of the constructed feel of an historical novel about it. It's rather like what she does in the Headleand Trilogy, following a set of female friendships over several decades, but stretched out to something like fifty years.

At the core of the story is the relationship between anthropologist and journalist Jess and her daughter, Anna, who has special needs and has to be cared for constantly. Jess has a group of women friends, including Eleanor the narrator, who all move in the same North London liberal middle-class professional world, and mostly have children of the same age. Drabble uses this to look at the way attitudes and behaviour in the group change with age and changing times (there's a lot of "...which we then still believed to be healthy"), but also as a frame on which to hang wider reflections on historical change. Through Anna, and contacts Jess makes as a result of caring for her, we learn about the ways attitudes and professional practices around mental health changed between the R.D. Laing era and Austerity, and we also move outside the strict timeframe of the book to look at - for instance - the different ways various famous writers dealt with having a "mad" family member (Jane Austen's family doesn't come out of the comparison well!).

Jess is an anthropologist for a reason, of course, and there's also a thread in the novel about our attitudes to Africa and how they have changed - Livingstone and Mungo Park are important offstage characters in this, and there are various present-day African characters who flit in and out of the story.

On the other hand, this also seems to be a novel that puts the whole idea of ageing and historical change into doubt, since Anna, the charming and lovable centre of the story, is also a person who doesn't develop emotionally or intellectually, and who doesn't experience time in the way a "normal" adult would.

I always enjoy Drabble's writing - she has a marvellous way of telling us things she feels we ought to know without ever seeming to lecture us. But this was a little bit less satisfying than some of her others, perhaps because she felt inhibited in what she could do with the character of Anna without appearing intrusive or patronising?


Perhaps the real mystery of this book is in the cover-art. David Bailey's 1962 photograph of Jean Shrimpton in New York is admittedly rather lovely, but since the story has absolutely nothing to do with New York, models, the swinging bit of "swinging sixties", or streetcars, it's not easy to see the relevance. Odd, when this is a book where quite a number of significant photographs play a part in the story, that they should hit upon one that doesn't... ( )
  thorold | Oct 5, 2019 |
This is a graceful novel that explores the theme of support by family and friends through a lifetime. It is a moving account of Jess and her care for her daughter Anna, who has a medical condition that means that she can never live a solely independent life. Margaret Drabble’s touching book follows them from the 1960s for over 50 years and delicately highlights the continuing aid given by their family and friends, both adults and children and how this reward of friendship and help is returned by Jess and Anna which leads to a positive sense of community in their north London area.
  camharlow2 | Apr 19, 2018 |
I wound up reading The Pure Gold Baby, because I read The Dark Flood Rises and then realized that I had missed a couple of Margaret Drabble's recent novels, though she's one of my favorite novelists, and I wrote about her work in my dissertation.

I’ve let this lapse happen, because I think, in general, her later books are not as good as her earlier ones were, and I definitely think that Pure Gold Baby follows this pattern. There are long sections where nothing of any substance occurs and there’s a great deal of near repetition. Drabble is making a point here, which is that the life of a family with a special needs child is likely to be highly scheduled and lacking in a lot of dramatic action for the parent. The parent needs to be available to parent.

The ideas here are interesting, but they don’t seem to gel into fiction. As with Drabble’s other novels, readers are given quite a lot of background information, here about the history and current state of treatment options for the mentally ill and developmentally delayed. These are delivered as research that Jess, the titular “baby’s” mother, is doing largely out of interest created by daughter’s condition.

It’s never quite made clear what the condition of the main character’s daughter is. Drabble says that Anna doesn’t have Down Syndrome, but she seems permanently at a very young mental age in terms of her intellectual capabilities and her understanding of what is going on around her. She spends time at an institution and time being cared for by her mother at home. Drabble’s point seems to be that she is fortunate in that her disability leaves her, on the whole, happy. She becomes anxious sometimes, but she is not a depressed person like some of those her mother meets in the various institutions she visits. She is pleased by small things. But in the end, there remains the question of who will care for her after her mother dies.

I found the descriptions of the way that England has worked with their mentally ill interesting, though they didn’t quite blend in. Anna doesn’t have a condition that requires medication, and another person that her mother becomes involved with, Steve, is treated by a doctor who is using an approach that does not involve medication, so there is not much discussion of medication in the novel. Drabble does talk about the use of institutions, relationships between doctors and patients and issues of aging. She has discussed institutions in a number of her recent novels, a topic that really interests me. Her most recent novel discusses aging and how the state responds to the aging in England.

Drabble has always been a novelist interested in taking on political issues, and perhaps because this is a novel centered on Anna, a girl and then a woman, who not only can’t understand such issues but becomes anxious if she’s exposed to them, they remain repressed throughout much of the novel, as though we’re tiptoeing around what we don’t want the children to hear. Direct communication is also difficult, because large parts of the novel are told through the first person point of view of Anna’s mother’s friend who is not present for a lot of the action but hears about it later from Anna’s mother or some other friend. In this way, Drabble largely avoids the problem of representing Anna's speech directly, which she may have decided was too difficult. Instead, what she says is reported indirectly, "Anna said that...."

Overall, I’m glad I read this novel, even though I wouldn’t rate it nearly as highly as a book like Drabble’s Gates of Ivory. The topic is especially interesting for me at this time, though. Others may find the flaws simply annoying and put the book down. ( )
  heather.levien | Dec 24, 2017 |
Anthropology student Jessica Speight is at the start of a budding anthropology career when she has an affair with her professor that leaves her a single mother. Though she has an irresistible charm and sweet demeanor, it soon becomes clear that Jessica's young daughter, Anna, is developmentally behind her peers. The Pure Gold Baby spans several decades, from the 1960's to the present, and examines motherhood, friendship, love and family life through Margaret Drabble's signature prose.

The Pure Gold Baby is told in first person from the perspective of a woman in Jessica’s circle of friends, often speaking as the voice of the group. This style keeps Jessica and Anna at arm’s length, making it difficult to fully know their characters despite the time spent following their lives. While it is frustrating to read so much about a family and still end up feeling like an outsider, the novel shifted when I began to see the narrator as a mirror for Jessica's role as an anthropologist. Drabble reminds us that, when heard only in whispered gossip, a family’s story can be twisted in the same way a culture can be misunderstood by an anthropologist's field notes.

“There was no suggestion, now, that Anna would be a normal child. She would be what she would be - a millstone, an everlasting burden, a pure gold baby, a precious cargo to carry all the slow way through life to its distant and yet unimaginable bourne on the shores of the shining lake.”

Drabble's prose is as stunning as it's been throughout her career, despite the odd narration. Though some may find it difficult to forge a connection with the novel's characters, The Pure Gold Baby is easy to appreciate and a fitting addition to Margaret Drabble's long list of accomplishments.

- See more at: http://www.rivercityreading.com ( )
  rivercityreading | Aug 10, 2015 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 15 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
It is the early 1960s and Jessica Speight, a young anthropologist, becomes pregnant by a married professor. Her dreams of returning to Africa are put to one side and she becomes a desk-bound anthropologist in north London while caring for her daughter, Anna, the “pure gold baby” of the title.
adicionada por KayCliff | editarIndependent (Nov 10, 2013)
Because of this, The Pure Gold Baby is more muted than a lot of Drabble's work. It's definitely a low-key novel, and slightly remote, but it's also original and ultimately really affecting. I found a kind of somber bravery in the story of this unwavering, intelligent woman and her guileless and beautiful child. I'm so glad that Margaret Drabble, like her characters, just decided to keep on going.
Point of view is key in a novel. Can you imagine “Lolita” told by a disapproving next-door neighbor instead of Humbert Humbert or “The Great Gatsby” narrated by Gatsby himself instead of spellbound Nick Carraway?
Margaret Drabble has chosen an unfortunate narrator for “The Pure Gold Baby,”....As a narrator, Eleanor is repetitive and meandering. She hints at revelations and epiphanies that never materialize and glosses over more intriguing developments....Eleanor, on the other hand — as we well know after nearly 300 rambling pages — is “more resigned to the random and the pointless than Jess.” Readers may wish for a greater sense of significance.
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What she felt for those children, as she was to realise some years later, was a proleptic tenderness.
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Jess walked towards Enfield Lock and the canal and the River Lee, and then began to walk, thoughtfully, reflectively, receptively, along the tow path. Anna liked the water. Anna Jess thought, would like the water walkway. The lock was old and quiet, with a stationed narrow boat and a cluster of old buildings from another age – the dark-brick lock-keeper’s cottage with white fretted wooden gables, a row of tidy little houses, a pub called the Rifles. Jess sensed there was a historic arsenal connection here, as in Highbury, a military link, but the waterside this day was peaceful in the sun. The track was overgrown with elder and buddleia and nettles, with long greens and purples. Jess walked on and through a gate and over a wooden stile, and the water flowed strongly. She had left the placid canal bank and joined the path of the deep full river. A warning notice leaning rakishly on a rotting board told her the water was deep and dangerous. Small golden-winged birds flew in swift flurries in a light June breeze through tall willows and reeds. Dark dragon flies. blue-black, hovered and coupled over the rapidly moving surface.
As an anthropologist, Jess is sensitive about public perceptions of her calling. Certain academic and intellectual disciplines, certain professional occupations, seem to be fair game for dismissive mirth.
She was to become interested in popular conceptions of anthropology and its use as a motif in fiction. She wrote a paper on the subject ... In fiction, she claimed that it was usually exploited by flip and smart intellectuals: Cyril Connolly, William Boyd, Hari Kunzru - writers to whom it seemed to invite parody.... Saul Bellow, in Jess's view, offered an honourable exception to the tradition of anthropology-mockery.... Towards the end of Lolita, arch-parodist Vladimir Nabokov produces a classic example of anthropology-mockery.
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Her promising career in 1960s London interrupted by an affair with a married professor that renders her a single mother, Jessica Speight faces wrenching questions about responsibility, potential, and compassion when her sunny child reveals unique needs.

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