I didn’t like this book. I appreciated the author’s message but I found the content to be dull. To be fair, I went into the book with an open mind, as I bought it from a charity shop just because this copy was an unread Penguin Modern Classic and I had heard of Margaret Drabble but not tried her before. This title was first published in 2002 and is not one of her most famous works, which begs the question of why it was presented as a ‘classic’ by Penguin in 2011. I can see the merit in the book. However, I found the story depressing. The perspectives were weird. I found the first half had an interesting diary narration, which switched to third person for the second half and was immediately duller because of it.
The story is about an ageing and slightly prejudiced woman called Candida (ugh) who has moved to London on her own after a divorce. She muses a lot about the health club she attends, which used to be a college where she took a class about the work of the classical author Virgil. She describes her new urban surroundings with wonder and disgust. Mainly she is preoccupied with her varied bunch of friends. They all end up going on holiday together as a sort of classics study group. Not exactly riveting stuff.
This book is about female friendships and society’s attitude towards older women. I liked what the author was saying and the message was clearly feminist. For the first half, there was a page-turning quality. After that, I could hardly be bothered to pick the book up. It was a struggle to finish the 248 pages. The frequent classical references didn’t appeal to me. I have one of Drabble’s earlier books on my shelf so I’ll be giving her a second chance.