“The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer

Novel, 1962

Tale of a mother of a number of children and a procession of husbands and partners, the latest of whom, Jake, is keen to concentrate on his film career. From fairly early on, it seems quite evident that all is not well with the nameless narrator. The first chapter is set in a psychiatrist or counsellor’s office, and while domestic scenes are punctuated with talk of pregnancies and happy pills, childhood flashbacks are tinged with sadness and the narrator’s children don’t seem to offer much solace. Not an entirely gloomy read, but the book is low key and the narrative and narrator feel a little dislocated, so that it’s hard to feel too comfy reading. the female subservience also feels very kitchen-sink, but there’s a real quality about the writing in this short book.

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