The Pure Gold Baby

The Pure Gold Baby Jessica Speight, A Young Anthropology Student In S London, Is At The Beginning Of A Promising Academic Career When An Affair With Her Married Professor Turns Her Into A Single Mother Anna Is A Pure Gold Baby With A Delightful Sunny Nature But As It Becomes Clear That Anna Will Not Be A Normal Child, The Book Circles Questions Of Responsibility, Potential, Even Age, With Margaret Drabble S Characteristic Intelligence, Sympathy, And WitDrabble Once Wrote, Family Life Itself, That Safest, Most Traditional, Most Approved Of Female Choices, Is Not A Sanctuary It Is, Perpetually, A Dangerous Place Told From The Point Of View Of The Group Of Mothers Who Surround Jess, The Pure Gold Baby Is A Brilliant, Prismatic Novel That Takes Us Into That Place With Satiric Verve, Trenchant Commentary, And A Movingly Intimate Story Of The Unexpected Transformations At The Heart Of Motherhood

A.S Byatt The pair seldom see each other, and each does not read the books of the other.

❰PDF / Epub❯ ☀ The Pure Gold Baby  Author Margaret Drabble –
  • Hardcover
  • 291 pages
  • The Pure Gold Baby
  • Margaret Drabble
  • English
  • 28 August 2019
  • 9780544158900

10 thoughts on “The Pure Gold Baby

  1. says:

    somehow, this is my very first margaret drabble novel i know.and while i can look at it objectively and see the strength of its craft, it never really grabbed me as a reader part of that is due to the shape of the book it is ostensibly about jess and her pure gold, developmentally disabled baby anna, but it is told at a remove, through a friend of jess named nellie nellie seems to have quite a lot of access to jess and her thoughts and actions, but still at the end of the day there is a barrier between the narrator and subject that makes it read like a biography of someone unknown and unspectacular rather than a work taking advantage of the rich emotional possibilities a novel affords and that s fine that is a perfectly valid way to write a book, but the synopsis promised me this was written from the point of view of the group of mothers who surround Jess, and that s just not true there is still only one POV here, despite her perceived authority to tell jess story, and the stories of everyone surrounding jess i think if there had been a chorus of voices and perspectives, it would have made for a fuller story instead, it is as problematic as that other literary nelly, through whose filter we get the bulk of wuthering heights it is a novel in which nothing dramatic or tumultuous happens it begins in the 60 s, in london, with anthropologist jess becoming pregnant after an affair with her married professor, finding out that anna isn t like other little girls, and raising her alone through a series of personal events set against a larger backdrop of historical ones the writing is unsentimental, not quite stark, but there is something of the montage feel to it some people will find this lovely and muted, but to me, it is a little dull there are moments of quiet sparkle one character is described as having resigned himself to a life of unproductive daily anguish, which is a sentiment to which i can relate, but although we are given insight into jess inner thoughts, again, it is through this filter that for me, was an obstacle to really getting to the heart of the character, and no amount of prose sparkle can be a substitute for an engaging character i wish i had liked this book , but even though it was not to my particular tastes, i will give drabble another chance i can definitely see other people liking this one a lot, i just have never really responded to this kind of quiet storytelling at one point, anna is described as having no story to her life, no plot The concept of progress did not apply to Anna. and that sums up my reaction precisely occasionally beautiful, but echoless and empty karenfail.come to my blog

  2. says:

    There are two kinds of rambling I have come across in literature the good kind of rambling wherein the narrator jumps from one topic to another quite abruptly, dwelling on one subject for a good many number of pages before attempting to make a point of some sort and succeeding in that endeavour And the bad kind of rambling wherein a reader realizes, with a growing certainty, that the author s intention has been merely to dawdle and haphazardly branch out into topics with little to no substantial connection, occasionally inserting a philosophical musing or two to dispel some of the aimlessness of the narrative but with less than satisfactory results The Pure Gold Baby is an adherent of the latter kind of intolerable rambling And Margaret Drabble is an eloquent rambler It s good to listen to her talking but there s also the moment of irritation creeping in intermittently when one is tempted to abandon reading and wonder aloud is this going anywhere .Is this about the perils of motherhood a feminist take on the dynamics of a mother daughter relationship a commentary on mental illness and neurological conditions a homage to children afflicted by congenital disorders I could not fathom And that s majorly responsible for the half hearted 3 star rating.But a few days ago, by a stroke of good luck, I found Margaret Drabble s article in The Guardian on the deplorable treatment of senior citizens worldwide and her well argued pitch for allowing them to die a dignified death legalizing euthanasia in other words And I found the connection with The Pure Gold Baby developing instantly The concept of growing old is inextricably linked with the idea of growing and incapable of being in control of one s life and that s one identifiable theme in this book The eponymous pure gold baby, a differently abled child of sunny disposition who doesn t comprehend the complexities of the world and smiles and stumbles along her way through an uneventful life with the aid of her competent and headstrong mother has very little to do with the narrative but everything described within somehow revolves around her pitiable existence Throw in the life story of a single mother, some theoretical anthropology, case studies of Zambian lobster claw children born with physical deformities , examples of famed winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature with brain damaged children like Kenzabur e, Pearl S Buck and Doris Lessing, top it off with references to Jane Austen s mentally ill brother George Austen and what you get is a jumbled mess named The Pure Gold Baby To be fair to Ms Drabble, it is quite an aesthetically put together mess since she surely possesses the ability of fashioning a narrative out of sensitive issues without venturing into drippily sentimental territory But that s about the only redeeming feature of this mess That and the correct usage of the word prolepsis Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for an arc

  3. says:

    Even minor Drabble is still Drabble The exquisite delineation of character, s, setting and nuance is still there, as is the deft taking of the long view showing how things have changed, or not, in recent human history And that Drabble specialty that I love the magpie like picking up of broad and assorted bits of knowledge here, twinned themes of explorers missionaries and the changing characterization and treatment of humans who deviate from the norm, whether it be physical, mental or psychological difference and weaving them into something quite thought provoking indeed.I also enjoyed working backwards through the lifecycle with Drabble Her most recent book, The Dark Flood Rises, was about quite elderly people dealing with the end of life In this book, written 4 years earlier, her characters call themselves old but are somewhat younger dealing with retiring, wondering whether they still have a romantic life, etc I m going to keep moving back in time If I call The Pure Gold Baby minor, it is because the framing device of having a person tangential to the story relate it didn t really work for me There s a menace to the narration that never quite comes to fruition why does the narrator dwell so obsessively on Jess and her special needs daughter Anna I guess it wouldn t be Drabble if some major plot development emerged out of that almost creepy focus, but wondering what the narrator was up to was a significant distraction.

  4. says:

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  5. says:

    Some of the writing in this stops me in my tracks because it is so beautiful or so utterly apt a description Here is one example It was one of those grey monochrome February days when the road and the skies flatten and join and spread to a discouraging infinity The story is told from the point of view of Nellie who is friend to Jess As a result of her affair in the 1960s with a married man, her professor, Jess becomes pregnant and ends up single parent to Anna But Anna is not the same as other children It s an interesting look at how people react to those who don t fit the norm because of some disability.The back blurb says, the pure gold baby will raise your spirits and break your heart Sadly, it didn t have that effect on this reader While I feel inadequate making any criticism of this great lady of Literature, I found this to be part of the problem that I never felt I really got to know or become involved in the lives of Jess an Anna There was always a remove as if there was an invisible barrier between me and the characters It rambles into a lot of tangents and topics, including friendship, anthropology, parenthood, social changes in society, growing older and some reference to known literary figures and their families, like Jane Austen, Peals S Buck, Doris Lessing and Arthur Miller While much of this was interesting, yet for all of that at times I found it hard to keep reading and needed something lighter to read at the same time Perhaps this description of Anna best describes my thoughts to the book She was becalmed There was no story to her life, no plot In a sense that same comment could be applied to the book as a whole It remained for me a picture of events, rather than an engaging read So while I enjoyed the writing at times and it was filled with a lot of information and description of getting older and of social changes, I never felt emotionally connected to the characters I m prepared to concede others may view this book differently

  6. says:

    Wanna know the best way to land on my one star list Easy Just take a subject that s near and dear to me e.g the parenting of special needs children , title your book with something catchy like The Pure Gold Baby to fish in suckers like me who think they re going to read a moving and affecting story about a special needs child, insert an annoying protagonist i.e Mom, Jessica Speight, an anthropologist whose maternal instincts were, we re led to presume, sparked while on assignment in Zambia by witnessing ectrodactylic i.e Lobster Claw Syndromic children , feature her having an affair with a married professor, have her get knocked up and conceive the titular pure gold baby i.e Anna, a daughter with an undetermined though possibly autism related disorder rendering her slow and feeble , make Mom look like a saint of a mother, yet throughout the novel have her rue the advancement of her career and the diminution of a social life because of the encumbrance of parenting said pure gold baby A recipe for disaster Add in Margaret Drabble s ridiculous decision to have the Golden Mom s friend narrate the story of mom and child a narrator who is barely ever present in Jessica Speight s life, yet is omniscient to every detail of it, which obviates the need for dialog really there might be a grand total of ten lines of dialogue in the entire novel, most of them spoken by minor characters with little or nothing to do with the plot if there even is one and allows the reader no feelings of sympathy, empathy, disgustany feelings whatsoever for any of the characters in the book , not to mention Dame Drabble s generous dollops of dull, uninspired archaeological factoids, and mere lip service to special needs parentingand there you have it straight to my one star shelf Blecch.

  7. says:

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  8. says:

    Story with an AgendaI love Margaret Drabble I didn t love Pure Gold Baby It s about a mother daughter relationship beginning in the 60 s Jessica is a professional woman and unmarried when she has Anna which was unusual at the time Also unusual is that she doesn t immediately reveal who Anna s father is and seems to delight in single parenthood And then there s Anna s situation She s mentally challenged Drabble uses this to explore the history of mental health care in Britain beginning with the 60 s to the current time The book loses its personal focus when it strays to the political implications surrounding this issue It verges on being preachy.As always with Drabble the writing itself is exemplary I enjoyed the description of the community and how they banded together for mutual support when their children are small as well as how some of the friendships lasted into old age The mysterious narrator, Jess s friend Nellie, sometimes came across as distant and robbed the story of a personal feel I kept wishing Drabble had written a scholarly work to get her heart felt points across rather than using a fiction format This review is based on an advance reader s copy provided by the publisher Disclaimer included as required by the FTC.

  9. says:

    This is my first Drabble and I am disappointed I have had her on my to read list for a while and was excited to pick this up off the e shelf while browsing the other day didn t even need to use e reserve And after having just finished Lessing s The Fifth Child interested to see that Drabble mentions Lessing in this novel and says that Lessing had a mentally handicapped child, this is trivia of which I had not been previously aware , the topic seemed relevant Unfortunately, I was not impressed This is the kind of novel that circles and circles and makes lots of allusions and is smart and thought provoking , but has no real verve Ultimately, it just felt flat to me.The baby, of course, is Anna Single mother Jess has mentally deficient Anna and despite it all Anna is a pure gold baby She is the type of baby and later adult who is always smiling, always eager, and always happy Even though Jess has been dealt a tough hand, Anna is good and worthwhile she is pure gold and Jess is happy in her role of motherhood Drabble explores the parallels without oblique references between motherhood and slavery between freedom and colonialism between mental handicaps and oppression between aging and death She leads the reader in a round about way to think in terms of similarities between different kinds of limitation self imposed, legally imposed, physically mentally imposed and for this her work is strong However, she is very repetitive She discussed Livingstone and his racist colonial domination slave ownership and the horrors of poor quality mental health facilities over and over and then even some She mentioned the mum is dead problem for dependent children at least 5 times, when I felt that maybe once would have done .In short, Anna, as we have seen, made no progress at all She was becalmed There was no story to her life, no plot The concept of progress did not apply to Anna And so, the concept of plot or progression did not apply to this novel either This is a story of stagnation one in which Jess searches for meaning and connection to people with hand deformities in essence it is a character piece, but in actuality the two main characters Jess and Anna and their relationship remain stagnant throughout In that way, it is almost a Waiting for Godot of a novel the reader is invited to a post modern commentary on the evils of modern life through the development of a rather bland story of a middle class educated white woman and her mentally deficient daughter.That said, Drabble does make some interesting commentary on modern life My favorite was her comment on the change in public morals Decency is an artefact, and has failed to save our culture or centre our sexuality, so maybe, she speculates, an overflowing of what used to be called obscenity will Battered and drenched by massive earth shattering orgasms, we will all be purified Overall, I would not recommend it It is short, but repetitive and boring I will pick her up again as I have heard so many good things, but I am hoping that her other stuff is better.

  10. says:

    It s quite a while since I read a Margaret Drabble book and I d forgotten just what a good writer she is, and with this her latest novel she s certainly on top form Jessica Speight is a young anthropology student in 1960s London, all set for a successful career, when an affair with her professor leads to an unwanted pregnancy The arrival of Anna inevitably transforms her life, the so as Anna is a special baby, a pure gold baby , a child who makes particular demands and who brings both much joy but also much sadness to her devoted mother.Over the decades we follow Jessica and Anna s story, as the times and attitudes around them change attitudes to mental illness and mental disability, to motherhood, feminism and careers, to care of the sick and the old and to how we raise children.This book is a portrait of a family and a neighbourhood and a whole society It examines how we used to live and how we live now Drabble has an unerring eye for what it means to be a woman and a mother and a friend, what it s like to grow old and to see our children age and how it feels to no longer be able to make everything right for them With many acute and unsentimental observations Christmas will now always be for me that frenzied festival of foregone failure the novel is a moving and compelling snapshot of a time and place and a tribute to all the women who simply do their best and manage to survive.Thoroughly enjoyable and a book I heartily recommend.Thanks to Netgalley for sending me the book.

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