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The Pumpkin Eater (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – April 26, 2011
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“A subtle, fascinating, unhackneyed novel . . . in touch with human realities and frailties, unsentimental and amused. . . .So moving, so funny, so desperate, so alive. . . . [A] fine book, and one to be greatly enjoyed.” -Elizabeth Janeway, The New York Times
“A strange, fresh, gripping book. One of the the many achievements of The Pumpkin Eater is that it somehow manages to find universal truths in what was hardly an archetypal situation: Mortimer peels several layers of skin off the subjects of motherhood, marriage, and monogamy, so that what we’re asked to look at is frequently red-raw and painful without being remotely self-dramatizing. In fact, there’s a dreaminess to some of the prose that is particularly impressive, considering the tumult that the book describes.” —Nick Hornby, The Believer
About the Author
Daphne Merkin is the author of Enchantment, a novel and Dreaming of Hitler, a collection of essays. Her cultural criticism has appeared in a range of publications, including Vogue and The
American Scholar, and has been widely anthologized. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker, and is currently a contributing writer at Elle and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in New York City, where she teaches writing, and is at work on a memoir, Melancholy Baby.
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Top Customer Reviews
P. Mortimer was a witty and intelligent writer, very good company and you'll probably find yourself, like me, wishing you had known her.
I'm not a great lover of fiction. I prefer autobiographies when reading for entertainment. But when I do find a novel to settle into I'm very grateful and this is probably one my favourite novels, maybe partly because it is in fact very autobiographical.
The Home, published in 1971, is in many ways the sequel to Pumpkin Eater so, if you find yourself finishing this book and wanting more, I highly recommend it.
Also worth tracking down is her second autobiography 'About Time Too', in which she writes about her life and how the success of this novel and the film that followed it, changed her very interesting life. Her first biography, 'About Time' I found hard work. It lacked the flair and flow of the sequel.
Married four times with eight children, the unnamed woman's difficulties come to a head during her marriage to Jake Armitage, a successful screenwriter. Theirs is a complicated relationship filled with tumult, infidelity, and the inevitable betrayals that chip away at the marital bond.
We meet the woman first on her psychiatrist's couch, and throughout this tale, we see her confidences, her thoughts, her dreams, and sometimes her fantasies...and then, in the end, we see how Mrs. Armitage finally chooses to carve out some time for herself for contemplation and resolution.
A short and captivating tale, The Pumpkin Eater (New York Review Books Classics) is a chilling, yet sometimes humorous portrayal of marriage and family life. Five stars.
There was a lot to think about in this book. It covered the age old topics of marriage, motherhood and fidelity in oftentimes humorous fashion. I was a little surprised that abortion was raised in this story, since this book was originally published in 1962 London. The book is well written.
As I read, I couldn't stop thinking about the nursery rhyme by a similar name throughout this read......"Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater had a wife and couldn't keep her ". While in the nursery rhyme, Peter .... "put her (his wife) in a pumpkin shell ", in this story, although the Armitages' live in the city, Jack builds a glass tower in the country, for their "happy years", and his wife escapes to the tower for much needed quiet contemplation about her life.
Mrs. Armitage enters a marriage which she knows ill eventually fail her. She bears children from which she feels all too distant. Her husband's narcissism and their common infidelities trigger not only the unraveling of a dysfunctional relationship, but her mental dissolution. Rarely has a descent into depression been rendered with such clarity and fidelity, or redemption with such nuance and compassion.
Mortimer, wrote this in her forties during her marriage to John Mortimer. The relationship clearly provided the author's foundation for her characters, and critical events in the narrative. As in Penelope Mortimer's life, Mrs. Armitage seems swept along by the currents of her life, and her keen self-awareness is all that keeps her afloat. This knowledge of self emerges in dozens, perhaps hundreds of "one-liners" or brief paragraphs in which the author's insights and word-choice are stunning. Her dark humor surprises with such force and intelligence, only the chilliest reader will fail to laugh aloud.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is suffused with a weariness that is finally relieved in surprisingly believable fashion by an image more suited to The Sound of Music than a disappointed (but admittedly... Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Michael Moisio
Thus book was chosen by our book club because the local half price book store had enough copies for all of us and it had received good reviews. Read morePublished on March 9, 2014 by Wendy from Wisconsin
Beautifully written, rich in language, brilliant first person description of a woman falling apart within the confines of being wife and mother. Read morePublished on November 12, 2013 by Leigh barbier
The used book was in fine shape. Took a long time to get to me.
The story itself is "mad". But, I had to keep reading to see what Mrs. Armitage was up to next. Read more