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The Peppered Moth Paperback – April 25, 2002
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Nearly a century later Bessie's granddaughter, Faro Gaulden, is listening to a lecture on genetic inheritance. She has returned to the depressed little town in which Bessie grew up and wonders at the families who never left. Confronted with what would have been her life had her grandmother stayed, she finds herself faced with difficult questions. Is she really so different from the South Yorkshire locals? As she soon learns, the past has a way of reasserting itself-not unlike the peppered moth that was once thought to be nearing extinction but is now enjoying a sudden unexplained resurgence.
The Peppered Moth is a brilliant novel, full of irony, sadness, and humor.
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Praise for The Witch of Exmoor
"A novelist . . . who will have done for late twentieth-century London what Dickens did for Victorian London."-The New York Times
"Drabble skewers the egotism of her characters and of the society they inhabit with subtle humor and elegant psychological analysis . . . proves herself a master of the art."-Los Angeles Times
"Part mystery, part fairy tale . . . with a wicked, dead-on wit."-People
Praise for The Radiant Way
"The sprawling, dazzling pluralism of her novel is meant to illustrate the glimmering interconnectedness of all humanity."-The New Yorker
"This novel marks another step in one of the most interesting careers in contemporary letters. . . . It not only engrosses; it works."-Time
Praise for A Natural Curiosity
"-A masterly tapestry of characters and events . . . Drabble's fiction has achieved a panoramic vision of contemporary life."-Chicago Tribune
"It is Drabble's story that beguiles us. Her main characters, successful people in relatively full possession of their lives, can still be surprised, and frequently are."-The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
About the Author
MARGARET DRABBLE is the author of The Sea Lady, The Seven Sisters, The Peppered Moth, and The Needle's Eye, among other novels. For her contributions to contemporary English literature, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2008.
- Publisher : Harper Perennial; First edition (April 25, 2002)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0156007193
- ISBN-13 : 978-0156007191
- Lexile measure : 1010L
- Item Weight : 10.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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In the beginning, we meet a group of people interested in learning about their heritage. A scientist heads up the meeting, and is prepared to take DNA samples of the various participants.
We then move back and forth, between the past and present, exploring the primary characters from their childhoods to adulthood...and beyond.
Bessie Bawtry escaped her ordinary background--for a time, anyway--when she earned a Cambridge scholarship. She struggles to free herself from the family she left behind. However, she does end up marrying her hometown boyfriend Joe Barron. The reader has to wonder about this choice...is she really trying to escape her beginnings? And will she escape her family history or is she destined to repeat it?
After their marriage, her husband goes to war, leaving her to care for their two children all alone. When he returns, their differences become very apparent. Their troubled marriage must make each of them wonder about their choices.
Years later, though, their granddaughter Faro Gaulden, is amongst those seeking answers to their heritage. It would seem that things have come full circle, as she is trying to understand the very issues that plagued her grandmother. And she, too, struggles with choices that seemingly fly in the face of what she needs.
As I read this tale, I sometimes found myself bogged down...even confused, at times; sometimes the details bored me, as I wondered what was the point of it all.
But then toward the end, I regained my interest and the story moved more smoothly. Even the book's title made sense at one point, as one of the characters has an "internal monologue" about a moth species that has "darkened" with mutations; the "peppered moth"--almost an analogy for the genetic programming of the human characters.
Despite the fact that the book seemed to "drag" for me, at times, it was definitely a worthwhile read, which is why I'm granting it 4 stars. Probably 4.5.
Top reviews from other countries
Based on the author's own mother, Margaret Drabble admits in an afterword that she encountered great difficulties writing this biographical novel and comments that perhaps she should have tried to write a factual memoir instead - and I have to say that I think I agree. That's not to say that this book does not have its merits - it's very well-written, of course, and parts of the story were interesting to read. However, Bessie was not portrayed very sympathetically and I didn't become as invested in her as a character or become as involved in her life story as much as I would have expected. I also thought the sections focusing on DNA and genetic inheritance felt as if they'd been added on to make the story more interesting, and I found the authorial voice a little intrusive at times (in fact the author apologizes for this in the body of her narrative). I feel I should be discussing themes such as: how much are we shaped by our ancestry and the environment around us; how far do we really travel from our roots; and what power do we really have to reinvent ourselves? However, I find it difficult to work up the necessary enthusiasm for this particular story and although, as already mentioned, there were parts that I found interesting (and I wish I could have learnt more about Gertrude Wadsworth, a character who described herself as 'a poor man's Edith Sitwell' and who bought her furniture from Roger Fry's Omega Workshops), I have to say that I don't feel this is one of the author's better novels and much prefer her earlier books, such as ' A Summer Bird-cage '; ' Jerusalem the Golden '; ' The Needle's Eye ' and 'The Radiant Way' trilogy.