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.
I am addicted to listening to podcasts whilst running and I downloaded this from the Guardian short stories. It is Margaret Drabble reading Mansfield´s The Doll´s House. It is a fantastic but heartbreaking story, I was nearly crying as I was running around.
A very brief summary is that the Burnell girls are given an absolutely beautiful doll´s house. The girls show off about it in the playground at school and all the other girls are invited to see it except for the Lil and Our Else Kelvey who are seen to be socially inferior and even worse their father is rumoured to be in prison. It deals with being an outsider and cruelty in the playground.
Drabble reads this story beautifully and the interview afterwards is excellent where she explains why she chose it. She says;
“When one is older one can appreciate the economy of the narration, the symbolism of the doll’s house, the bloody horror of the leaking jam sandwiches, the subtle relationship of the two sisters and the snobbery of the adults, but it is the unbearable poignancy of that last line, “I seen the little lamp”, that continues to haunt. I still have dreams about being shunned in the playground or ignored at a party or finding no place at a dinner table.”
Listen to it now, it´s only about 15 minutes long and I guarantee you will be moved;