The Gates of Ivoryby Margaret Drabble
The Gates of Ivory is a vibrant, mesmerizing novel that juxtaposes the cynical, sophisticated realm of London against the dreaded world of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's Cambodia. In London, psychiatrist Liz Headleand receives an unexpected package, containing, among other things, a laundry bill from a hotel in Bangkok, old newspaper clippings, and two human finger bones. She recognizes the handwriting as that of Stephen Cox, who has been travelling in the Far East. With the help of her friends, Liz goes in search of the man who might once have been her lover, and gradually we learn of Stephen's difficult pilgrimage, from Thailand to Vietnam and, finally, Cambodia. Disturbing, wryly humorous, and deeply affecting, The Gates of Ivory brings two very different worlds into uneasy proximity, and the result is potent.
“Artfully constructed and at times mordantly funny.”
“Piquant characterization, wonderful dialogue and brainy, skillful writing.…”
–Globe and Mail
“Unputdownable.…A sojourn within The Gates of Ivory is not something one soon forgets.”
- Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.74(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.22(d)
Meet the Author
Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield, England, in 1939, and studied English at Cambridge University. Her novels include The Radiant Way, A Natural Curiosity, The Gates of Ivory, The Witch of Exmoor, The Peppered Moth, and, most recently, The Seven Sisters. Among her non-fiction works are Arnold Bennett: A Biography, A Writer's Britain, and Angus Wilson: A Biography. She is also the editor of The Oxford Companion to English Literature.
Margaret Drabble has three children and is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd. She lives in London, England.
- London, England
- Date of Birth:
- June 5, 1939
- Place of Birth:
- Sheffield, England
- Cambridge University
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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'Had it been that anxious, conscientious young Khmer, who had risked perhaps his life to send across the lines the package that had brought her to this room, these orchids?' Thus a narrator from the novel, whose task is shared with Harriet Osborne, summarizes the essential plot structure of this fantastic third novel in a trilogy. How can we not be pleased that Mr. Stephen Cox, writer, has sent his friend, Liz Headleand (nice to see you again, Liz!) a crazy surprise package full of postcards and messages. She feels obliged to interpret them. Her efforts at coming to grips with the text Stephen has sent her takes up much of the novel's plot. But, Stephen is Man with his Problem. He goes off on a quest to Thailand and Vietnam. Is he seeking inspiration for his next play? What is the meaning of life? The 'Gates of Ivory,' ironically, is Stephen's tale. Drabble is presenting man's fate. Ms. Drabble entertains us further with the other two friends, Alix Bowen and Esther Breuer. Esther gets married and Alix continues as a good social worker. The three women are as charming as ever. Thematically, Good Time and Bad Time coexist. Man has the capacity to do good and evil. Who represents good? Liz, Alix, and Esther who carry on their daily lives in a responsible, sane fashion day-to-day, unlike Stephen who traverses into too much unknown territory. The epitaph at the start of the novel presages the hope that will conclude the novel in the form of Liz's party. Konstantin Vassilou, Stephen's good friend from Vietnam, is alive and well and is invited. Konstantin also represents Good. Stephen is captured by the Bad Time forces--i.e. evil and darkness--and dies of malaria. Ms. Drabble engages us with the suspense and terror of Stephen's life in Thailand and Vietnam as well as with Liz's trip to the East to find out what happended to her friend. It is a symbolic effort to show her concern to resolve the mystery of Stephen's trouble. Kampuchea is Bad Time, men doing evil. The Vietnam war killed many innocent people. Paul Whitmore, Alix's murderer, is Bad Time. Alix is Good Time, for she is dedicated to her social work. She is a good friend of Liz and Esther. 'It is a comfortable, Good Time room,' Drabble says of Liz Headleand's drawing room in St. John Wood. Good must investigate. Liz, Konstantin, Alix, and Esther will endure in truth, light, and goodness is the message of hope that Ms. Drabble concludes this enthralling novel with--and we're all invited to the 'Good-Time Party.'