Wednesday, 27 January 2016

♥ The Millstone | Book Review

As of the fifth of February, I'll have officially started my second (and final) semester of my third (and final) year at Falmouth University. Scary stuff. What's even scarier, is the thought of my very last literature module. After dealing with the likes of Shakespeare and Milton in my first year, we've now moved on to more 'modern' texts. Margaret Drabble's The Millstone was published in the middle of the supposedly swinging sixties... though the book fails to make a sixties London seem all that interesting.

Rosamund Stacey is a bit of a cheeky lady. She's not very promiscuous, as she fails to make sexual contact with any of the men in her life, but she plays the part of a whore very, very well. She's rich, well educated and is totally settled into her own way of life. She spends her time with two good for nothing men, Joe and Roger, up until the point she starts engaging with George, a broadcaster, who she takes home and beds. One time. She doesn't see him again. We've all been told that you can very well end up pregnant on the first and only time you have sex and this is exactly what happens to Rosamund and her entire world changes. Her ideals are spun around and she becomes increasingly aware that she can't stay set in her ways. Though she does try and drink the pregnancy away, her attempts of killing the pregnancy all fail, because she can't really be bothered to do things the right way and this I feel speaks for the whole text. To me, it's quite humorous. It's a slow moving narrative that talks of the issues a single, pregnant woman may face in the sixties, but it never actually gets to a point in which we are shown the ideology of the time. The only sections of the narrative that manage to convey the point of the novel and its discussion of ones nature are the small snippets of Rosamund's reflection of her situation. She ends up falling hopelessly in love with the child she has, a daughter she calls Octavia, and goes on to survive quiet well, despite being single. She hires a nanny, has her friend Lydia move in and goes about life in a very modern way. She's a working mum, when all other wives are just that... House wives. Rosamund feels she's much better off than these women and is a beautiful reflection of a modernist approach to the way society felt in the sixties. Drabble writes of a world in which her women have total control of their own lives and I love it. Despite keeping her mouth zipped, for the most part, when it came to revealing the truth about her offspring, Rosamund is found out. She does not continue to hide the fact she is a mother, just fails to tell those who don't ask. Her parent's, for example, are travelling Africa. She never writes, never tells them a thing... But when Octavia takes very ill, a family friend who looks after her writes to and tells Rosamund's father of the situation. He clearly isn't aware of Rosamund's concealment of her situation and when her father finally writes to her, he states they won't be coming home as planned. They instead leave to India, in a bid to spare the 'embarrassment' a child out of wedlock causes. It's harsh, but it works out just perfectly for Rosamund and Octavia, who carry on just as they are, without a care for the opinions of others.

The Millstone wasn't very interesting, but I felt the ideas discussed in the text are an example of the way in which women were starting to against what was always expected, and Rosamund fighting her own Victorian ideals are the right way to go about it. It is a shame that the London presented in the novel seems dire and dull, as I feel the book could have used the setting the really emphasise the lifestyles presented.

Overall, it was an easy read, but Drabble is not an author I'd pick up again.

Em x


  1. It's a shame that the book was a bit dull and not very interesting as I really like the ideas behind it. Hope your final year at uni is going well!

    The Velvet Black | UK Style & Beauty Blog

    1. Yeah, I read it quickly and enjoyed the story, but I expected it to show off sixties London and it just made it sound like such a boring and dreadful place! It could have been written so amazingly, and it just let me down! I'll let you know this time next week when I know what I ended up getting in my first semester. Dreading getting these results back! But thank you, honey! x


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