The Ice Age [NOOK Book]


Just thirty-eight-years-old, Anthony Keating’s already survived both a divorce and a heart attack. He has left the BBC for the dangerous life of property speculation in the boom-and-bust 1970s, and is brooding on the oil crisis, galloping inflation and the slump in his grand house in the British countryside. His only stroke of good luck in an otherwise collapsing life is his new lover, the beautiful actress Alison Murray. But when Alison’s daughter Jane is arrested while traveling in Eastern Europe, Alison rushes...
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The Ice Age

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Just thirty-eight-years-old, Anthony Keating’s already survived both a divorce and a heart attack. He has left the BBC for the dangerous life of property speculation in the boom-and-bust 1970s, and is brooding on the oil crisis, galloping inflation and the slump in his grand house in the British countryside. His only stroke of good luck in an otherwise collapsing life is his new lover, the beautiful actress Alison Murray. But when Alison’s daughter Jane is arrested while traveling in Eastern Europe, Alison rushes to try and save her, and Anthony soon follows and finds himself caught by the strife and hardships of the communist bloc. Set against a backdrop of the Cold War and the political turmoil that led England to Margaret Thatcher, The Ice Age tells the story of three people desperately seeking firm ground amidst chaos with Margaret Drabble’s characteristically "high degree of intelligence and irony" (The New Yorker).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544286481
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 1977
  • Sales rank: 924,488
  • File size: 656 KB

Meet the Author

Margaret Drabble

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.


With her shrewd, mannered descriptions and dialogue, Drabble can say a lot. Take this line from The Witch of Exmoor: "He bites his nails between grapes, and avoids eye contact. A mother -- but perhaps not his -- would note that he is too thin." The British author, who has been writing surprising and clever novels for some 40 years, tends to remain focused on female protagonists; but she is inventive when it comes to narration, sometimes where you least expect it. The Witch of Exmoor, for example, has a wry, omniscient narrator who begins with a godlike, "Begin on a midsummer evening. Let them have everything that is pleasant." In 2002's The Seven Sisters, the first section of the book is the main character's (often self-critical) computer diary, and unexpected shifts in perspective follow.

Her variations in narrative structure and her injection of political and social commentary into her works makes Drabble a particularly challenging and interesting writer. Her return to fiction after a seven-year gap, 1987's The Radiant Way, became a trilogy (completed by A Natural Curiosity and Gates of Ivory) that veered slightly into international adventure territory. Ivory, for example, flips between psychiatrist Liz Headleand (one of the three women first featured in The Radiant Way) and the writer friend for whom she is searching, a man who has gone to Cambodia for research. Unfortunately, several of Drabble's early and highly praised novels (including the first two books of the aforementioned trilogy) are out of print in the U.S. It's a shame, because those books are the ones that established Drabble as an important writer, and are the templates for Drabble's independent, intelligent heroines on the road to self-discovery.

A few critics who have been admirers of Drabble's since she began writing in the 1960s have gone sour on the author in her later years. On the release of The Witches of Exmoor, a Toronto Sun critic wrote, "I am so sad and sorry to report that Margaret Drabble, once one of the best novelists on earth, is past her best," calling the novel a "rehash." Of 2002's The Seven Sisters, the story of middle-aged divorcee Candida Wilton's experiences as a newly single woman, a critic for Britain's Observer lamented the book's unconventional and somewhat cagey approach toward the end. "Altogether, Candida is alive enough that the novel's truncations ache like phantom limbs," the critic wrote. "The realised heroines of Drabble's magnificent books from the 1960s or 1970s would say to Candida, Tell me what it is like to be you."

Ultimately, part of the push and shove over Drabble's work comes down to a tension between literary invention and reader satisfaction; she has often been criticized for not caring enough about her characters to make them engaging. The New York Times wrote of The Gates of Ivory, "It's about politics and literature, terrorism and atrocities, love and life and death.... But ideas do not make a novel. Characters do. And we need to care about them, deeply." However, consider The Nation's take: "What I love about this novel is what I love about the best of Drabble's works -- it's rich and complex and allusive and textured and intertextual and takes on the big questions: life and art, representation and responsibility, the possibility of political action, the question of human nature. It's a novel of ideas at a time when most fiction seems deliberately lobotomized."

Good To Know

Possession author A. S. Byatt is Drabble's older sister. There was too much competition," Byatt says about her childhood relationship with her sister. "We didn't get on."

Drabble was an actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company after she graduated from college, and was an understudy for Vanessa Redgrave; she married fellow RSC actor Clive Swift in 1960. The two divorced in 1975, and Drabble later married biographer Michael Holroyd.

Also a scholarly writer of biography and nonfiction, Drabble has written several forewords to editions of Jane Austen's work as well as lives of novelists Arnold Bennett and Angus Wilson. The nonfiction includes a 1990 analysis and critique of property law, Safe as Houses.

Drabble has also written several plays including Laura, Isadora, and Bird of Paradise. She adapted her novel The Millstone as the 1969 film A Touch of Love.

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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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2003

    Anthony Keating Is Searching For Self-fulfillment In His World Turned Upside Down

    Something destructive has happened to noble England, Margaret Drabble enlightens us, thus setting the table, in the two epigraphs that open 'The Ice Age.' 'There was no one common cause for all these terrible things.' (page 15) Sure enough, the novel's main character finds himself enmeshed in an apocalyptic tale. 'It was as though he had strayed into some charged field, where death and disaster became commonplace.' (page 22) I genuflect to English Literature's concern for values, and I no less feel that reverence toward this very fine novel. We must look to the plot for what has gone wrong with England. Anthony Keating, the main character, is a typical middle-class man of British society. He grows up with all of the traditional expectations of an energetic, intelligent man. He finds his fate in college by eventually pairing up with a wealthy property developer, Giles Peters, despite his high level of idealism. He is seduced by a materialist lifestyle. Anthony is thus a representative of 'economic' England. He marries Barbara Cockburn and has four children, but 'Babs' is an unfaithful type. He later meets a more agreeable woman, Alison Murray, who has two children from a prior marriage. Although Anthony's two brothers have prospered, Anthony experiences trouble both physically and financially. He has a heart attack, which forces him to take life easy at his country home. The company, Imperial Delight Company, formed with Giles, Rory, and himself, which he thought would make him wealthy and happy, goes bust. After buying a house in the country, High Rook House, Anthony has found time to reflect on the meaning of his life. Why does he feel a spiritual void? Anthony exhibits sound thinking and soul-searching and ultimately decides that Man must think about the nature of God and the possibility of religious faith. Alison's sensible and loving nature is a helpful complement to Anthony while they are together at High Rook House. Len Wincobank, a business associate whom Anthony admires, languishes in prison for fraud he has committed. Alison's daughter, Jane, who has travelled to Wallacia, a communist, East European country, is arrested and charged with hit-and-run. Alison visits with her and returns while she is still awaiting trial. When Anthony goes, however, at the urging of Humphrey Clegg, a Minister, he fails, through a mishap, to leave the country with Jane. He winds up in prison serving a six-year sentence for espionage. This is a disturbing irony. Ms. Drabble analyzes the sinister economic conditions that have brought Britain's problems in. Materialism has had a negative impact on people's lives. The economy and materialism are unpredictable forces to the individual, who relies exclusively on them. Finances hold anxiety. Therefore, men like Anthony live with disillusionment. Materialism requires a value system in order to comprehend and cope with daily life. Yet, society has thrown away its cherished values. It is no surprise, then, that Anthony says, 'I have learned nothing.' The sense of values in life can mean the difference between the rootlessness of Tim, an out-of-work actor, and Kitty Friedmann's well-knit family. Anthony achieves the realization that faith is necessary to Man, but by then he is a doomed man. The hope of the coming generations, in the novel, is undermined by this atmosphere of materialistic difficulty. 'Would they survive? How could one tell?' The only way out of this predicament is for people to give spiritual, i.e. ethical, values a higher priority in their community planning. Man needs God in life. Six years in prison is not a dignified destiny for Man. Ms. Drabble is absolutely lucid about Anthony Keating's remarkable potential as a Good Man. However, as a dying breed (of the old order), he cannot be certain that the next generation will choose honorable paths that will exalt Britain's diminished destiny. Let'

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