The Millstone

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Overview

At a time when sex is de rigueur -- this is the 60s, after all, in newly energized London -- and illegitimacy taboo, Rosamund Stacey finds herself pregnant after her only sexual encounter. Despite her fierce independence and academic brilliance, Rosamund is naive and unworldly and the choices before her are terrifying. But in the perfection and helplessness of her baby she finds an unconditional love she has never known before, and the realization that motherhood and ...
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The Millstone

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Overview

At a time when sex is de rigueur -- this is the 60s, after all, in newly energized London -- and illegitimacy taboo, Rosamund Stacey finds herself pregnant after her only sexual encounter. Despite her fierce independence and academic brilliance, Rosamund is naive and unworldly and the choices before her are terrifying. But in the perfection and helplessness of her baby she finds an unconditional love she has never known before, and the realization that motherhood and independence are not mutually exclusive.
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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Drabble's fiction has achieved a panoramic vision of contemporary life.
Washington Post
Reading Margaret Drabble's novels has become something of a rite of passage...Sharply observed exquisitely companionable tales of women of a certain age and class, educated, egocentric, strong, unlucky in love.
LA Times
As meticulous as Jane Austen, and as deadly as Evelyn Waugh.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156006194
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Series: Harvest Book Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 420,245
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Drabble

Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and read English at Cambridge. She was awarded a DBE in 2008. Since the 1960s she has written 17 novels - The Millstone was her third - and she has also edited two editions of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. She is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd.

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    1. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Sheffield, England
    1. Education:
      Cambridge University

Reading Group Guide

1. It's the 1960s and a sexual revolution is underway, but why can't Rosamund join in? After she loses her virginity to George, why is it impossible for Rosamund to tell him that she loves him? Do you think George loves her? Are they too much alike?

2. Why doesn't Rosamund tell George she's pregnant? Is it believable that she wouldn't tell him? Why does she decide not to have an abortion? What does Lydia's experience with abortion tell us about this society?

3. Rosamund admits to a belief in a malicious deity, though as her pregnancy advances, why does she change her mind? When she holds a stranger's sleeping child on her lap in the clinic, what important realization does she have?

4. When she leads Lydia's thinly disguised manuscript and the unflattering portrait of herself, why doesn't Rosamund ask her to leave? Is this portrait accurate?

5. Are Rosamund's parents to blame for her inability to connect with others? Rosamund discovers that her parents must know she has had a child, yet why don't they come back from Africa to help her? Is their staying away an act of love or indifference?

6. The most powerful moment of the novel happens when Rosamund causes a scene in the hospital. Is she out of control or is the opposite true? What gives her the courage to hold her ground against the cruelty of the Sister in charge? Why does the Sister want to keep her away?

7. When Rosamund finally sees Octavia, what does she realize about her daughter's love for her? What does she learn about grief and suffering from the other mother she meets in the hospital?

8. When they meet again, do you think George suspects that Octavia is his child? Why doesRosamund lie about when she was born? Has Rosamund stopped loving him or is it more complicated than that? Could knowing that Octavia was his child perhaps transform George, too?

9. Do you think the author is saying that a mother's love for a child is so satisfying that she doesn't need any other kind? Is it possible for women to experience unconditional love only through childbirth?

Copyright © 1998. Published by Harcourt, Inc.

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