Margaret Drabble – The Millstone

I heard about this book whilst listening to Radio 4´s Open Book and  also previously enjoyed Drabble´s The Red Queen.  This book tells the story of Rosamund, a woman who previously hasn’t been that interested in sex but finds herself pregnant after her first and only time (bet that put her off even more).  She then has to deal with the stigma of being a single parent in the 1960s.

After a failed home abortion attempt, Rosamund decides to keep her baby. It is shocking to read about how different the process of NHS care was and the attitudes towards single parents then, it seems very backwards;  there is a general assumption by most nurses that Rosamund will give up her baby for adoption.  It is also  heartbreaking at one point when nurses do not  allow her to see her baby.  Some parts of the book do seem unrealistic such as her not  telling her parents about her pregnancy and them not mentioning it when they finally do find out.  This book is realistic is showing that despite the ’60s being known as the permissive society most people stayed largely conventional.

The book does not have the stereotypical happy family ending, but you find yourself being drawn into Rosamund’s love for the baby and in that it is a nice end.  A nice short little book.


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