Read The Realms of Gold by Margaret Drabble Online


Drabble strikes gold with this novel about a famous archaeologist who is passionately in love with a married, slightly mad and very moral man. Alive with feeling and intelligence, endearing characters and feminist insights, this is one of the very best by an immensely gifted author....

Title : The Realms of Gold
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780804103633
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Realms of Gold Reviews

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-06-15 03:35

    from The Children's book to the Realms of Gold one moves from Byatt to Drabble, one sister to another, forwards and backwards in time to the early 1970s. The title is a quote from Keats - On First Looking into Chapman's Homer (view spoiler)[ a rare instance of me picking up a book on account of its title (hide spoiler)] so we are primed with the idea of discovery and travel, this reinforced by the introduction of our main character Frances Wingate - a woman archaeologist in Italy on a lecture tour, she is divorced, wealthy, with a handful of children in London and is separated from the man she loves, who naturally, is married unhappily to someone else. Archaeology suggests that in the novel we will be scrapping away at the past to uncover..something, this reinforced by the introduction of Frances' cousin - who is a geologist, so we are well primed to dig and uncover hidden or obscure truths, or gold or oil, given all this, perhaps it is unsurprising that the novel doesn't render unto to us a literary Pompeii, rather as though if Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple met in a novel they would probably fail to solve the murder and instead argue over method (or take too many drugs and then do some wild knitting). It is though with its electricity cuts, rural housing sprawl a nice period piece, though the desirable love interest beating up his wife (view spoiler)[ the battered wife turns out later to be a Lesbian who strikes up a relationship with a woman from the tobacconist's(view spoiler)[ the implication is that it is acceptable to beat your wife if she realises that her sexual orientation is no longer heterosexual, or at least that it is the beating husband who deserves our sympathy in such a case which feels a bit heavy handed even for the 1970s (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[although this is played out for laughs, I felt I'm also impressed none the less with the transition from asking for twenty Pall Mall, to suggesting that the two move in together (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]- this apparently acceptable, even necessary beating in the context of the novel is I suppose the now less acceptable face of the 1970s. I rather liked Wingate's theory on the role of landscape on character, followed by a nice chapter in which she revisits her grandparents cottage in south Lincolnshire or Huntingdonshire - somewhere there-abouts anyhow, the flat reclaimed land where they grow more cabbage than even I could humanly eat even with butter, lemon and bacon. Again with three cousins in the story there is a possibility of seeing - I think of my own cousins as made from the same stuff as myself, but fired differently and as a result better glazed ,and indeed there is a taste of this but ultimately the well bore is dry, the test trench empty, ok depression runs in the family, but the precise link to the flat landscape is not established even with a tantalising whiff of poor John Clare, as a case of much have I travelled in the realms of old paperbacks where many interesting ideas amount to nought. Perhaps it depends on how you relate to flat - ultra-human made landscapes, I tend to like them myself, since it reminds me of my grandparents - who lived in such a landscape, of course when it is that flat and well drained you could be virtually walking about in your own consciousness and that might be too much for some. Some interesting play on the original ancestral cottage as a garden of Eden - with later attempts at domesticity, contrasted with the origins of family squabbles and the heavy bread of the ancestors, the vegetables cultivated by the sweat of the brow. The final set piece is the burial of a great aunt abandoned to starve to death because she was an old witch, my paternal great grandmother was an old witch, which in the days before the '44 government and the introduction of universal health care was a good line of work to be in. She has left me rather uninterested in witchiness, though in pleasing archaeological detail - old shoes are found stowed away in a hidden cupboard in that character's cottage after her death - this being a known protection against witchyness of all sorts. A nice period piece of unhappy 70s marriages, with less incest than you might imagine in a novel featuring three cousins unknown to each other (view spoiler)[ie none (hide spoiler)], but ends on no Pacific coast - instead maybe a glimpse of the Serpentine.Lasting message: people feel impelled socially to marry but very few people are able to thrive in such a state ,it is curious how this message describes all the marriages we are shown in the book, despite it ostensibly not being a 'marriage problem' novel, divorce at least is a possibility here for most protagonists - despite the time difference this is writing that Thomas Hardy would recognise - both on account of the roles of landscape and kinship as well as power imbalances in sexual relationships. I didn't feel though that The Realms of Gold was a hidden treasure, it can rest quietly in the soil I think for a while yet.

  • David
    2019-06-15 02:28

    I've always liked Margaret Drabble's work more than that of her (more successful?) sister, A.S. Byatt. This may be just a residual consequence of having "met" her while I was in college. She had been invited to lecture by someone in the English department, and at the time I used to hang out with some of the women in English lit, so we ended up after the lecture having tea and biscuits in Josephine's flat with the eminent speaker, who was totally charming.I think the reason I enjoy her fiction is that she so often writes about the lives of strong, intelligent women. Her protagonists are interesting people, whose problems and issues I tend to understand and identify with. Sometimes they are academics, but she manages to avoid the parochialism that mars much writing about academia, and because of that her work has a broader appeal, IMO.Not sure why, but I like her middle novels the best - her recent novels have not engaged me that much, though she does write well, and interestingly, on relations between people of my generation and our parents. But even those of her novels that I've not enjoyed quite as much have stimulated me to think, and they are always well-written. She remains an author whose new work I am always likely to try.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-22 02:40

    The beginning of my love affair with Margaret Drabble's work, and precedes her other opus: The Radiant Way. Realms of Gold is the kind of book that will always evoke the memory of where you were and what you were doing when you first read it. Intelligent writing and an intelligent but flawed heroine whose thoughts and corresponding narrative weave through her relationships and the British class/economic system of the later 20th century. This is not chick lit., it is Women's Literature!

  • Hugh
    2019-06-15 07:30

    Another book picked up on a whim in a second had shop. This was a slow burner - I found the first half hard work, and struggled to maintain an interest in the central character Frances Wingate, a divorced archaelogist. The next section, though bleak, was more interesting - an analysis of a bored housewife, Frances's distant cousin Janet and her life with an unsympathetic husband and her attempts to come to terms with this limited existence. This section also introduces us to Tockley, a town in the flat Lincolnshire fenland which forms a drab backdrop in keeping with the story. During the first half there are several authorial asides almost apologising for the dull material of the plot. The second half is much livelier, bringing together Frances's extended family in the aftermath of the death of a mad aunt. It also changed my opinion of the book as a whole, which I found quite moving and full of ideas.

  • Linda
    2019-06-05 01:44

    It's been a long time since I've read "the Margarets" - Lawrence, Drabble, and Atwood.This one was published in the '70's and shows it a bit. The main character, Frances Wingate, isa well-known archaeologist yet also the mother of four children, divorced, and having a seriousaffair with a married man. This is a character driven book. Drabble has made Frances an intriguing woman, and I enjoyed being inside her head. The plot meanders somewhat but does a good job of taking you through ordinary lives in a way that shows no one's life is just ordinary. As I said, the book is a little dated but still good.

  • Esther
    2019-06-01 23:39

    I've read nearly everything MB has written, she's like the book equivalent of sinking into a hot bath - stimulating but relaxing. All her books are very much of their time - this one written in the mid 1970s revolves around a divorced archeologist discovering her family roots.

  • Shellye M.
    2019-06-19 04:18

    I discovered Margaret Drabble when this book was assigned for a class my last quarter in college. And it was a transformative novel -- it was like pulling back a curtain and flooding a room with sunlight. Even though I'd read novels by women writers throughout my undergrad years, this was a serious, contemporary novel by a woman and featured a complex, distinctive, female protagonist and it ROCKED my world! When I talked to my professors about serious contemporary writers, here's who came up -- John Irving. Saul Bellow. Philip Roth. Norman Mailer. Thank goodness for Anne Mellor, who introduced me to Margaret Drabble, guaranteeing me a lifetime of wonderful reading!

  • zespri
    2019-05-30 06:42

    Hilarious. I think Margaret Drabble must have a lot of fun writing, as i just find her books so enjoyable in a quirky, off-beat sort of way.This one written in 1975 is the story of Frances Wingate, an archaeologist with a major find under her belt, who seems to travel the world on speaking tours and conferences, leaving her 4 children behind to sort of fend for themselves. All very liberated woman stuff, but Frances still is hankering for more. How the author thinks of the odd situations Frances gets into beats me, what a wonderful imagination.Along the way though, she makes some wonderfully wry observations on life and the universe, and maybe that is why I enjoy her books so much.

  • Christine
    2019-06-22 05:23

    I adored this book in college and read it many times since. I especially appreciate Drabble's empathetic view of her characters and her juxtaposition of the beauty of the mundane with the difficulties of living in a modern world.

  • Joyce
    2019-06-02 23:36

    I discovered Drabble in the 1970s and read all her early books then. Loved them all--they were beautifully written women's fiction (though certainly not called that) that addressed the issues facing young married women and later women with children. Looking back I think hers were among the first really popular explorations of the politics of feminism in women's lives. In this novel starring archaeologist Frances Wingate, she presents a very capable woman who made a discovery early on and now teaches and lectures, leaving her 4 children in the care of a housekeeper and occasionally her ex-husband. And everyone does surprisingly well--I always admired that! But she struggles with the question of whether one can be married and have a career, and her answer is no. When her daughter seems to excel at physics, she wonders whether a woman can be a physicist, a thought that clearly places this book at a time when one would actually question that. As all these books reflect, the 70s were the start of a glorious time for women with more possibilities than ever, but while women could accept that intellectually, it turned out to be pretty hard to put feminism into practice. That's what I think Drabble considers in these early books, and as someone who lived during that time and those changes, I've always found them very satisfying, even on re-reading.

  • Lauma
    2019-06-08 05:33

    Izlasīju nedaudz vairāk par 100 lpp.Autore viennozīmīgi prot rakstīt, valoda baudāma, stāstījums saistošs un gribas lasīt vēl un vēl. Bet tie galvenie varoņi!!! Nu lai cik interesanti, man aptecējās dūša lasot galvenās varones amorālos spriedumus un rīcības un no tām izrietošās neticamās situācijas. Kkā pat negribējās lasīt līdz kādai agonijai tas viss tiks novests pirms apsolītajām laimīgajām beigām. Kopumā tas viss radīja ļoti savādu iespaidu. Bet es pilnīgi ticu, ka izlasot visu grāmatu, varbūt domātu savādāk.

  • Julie Barrett
    2019-05-30 03:22

    The realms of gold by Drabble Margaret Story of a woman who after leaving her husband had tried different means to cope, drinking, pills, etc.She should've socialized more...with her lectures she is able to travel a lot and carry on as if she's not married at all...Like her career choice but not sure how she was able to do it with children and being married. so many struggles.I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

  • Annis Pratt
    2019-06-21 05:45

    This is only one of Margaret Drabble's wonderfully detailed (often like the interior of a Dutch painting) and funnily conceived tragi-comic novels about life among intelligent women loving and living in England during the last decades of the twentieth century. These novels (see also The Middle Ground and The Radiant Way) have marvellous plots, a lot of deep thinking that only underlines her deft characterization. My all time favorite novels.

  • Erica
    2019-06-10 07:37

    Not quite perfect - the narrator stepped in too often, the plot was tidier than it needed to be - but pretty close. I loved Frances Wingate, her messy glamorous life, her family and lovers, but I love Margaret Drabble more, for writing something that feels more interesting and honest than anything I've read recently.

  • Banbury
    2019-06-05 04:42

    The insights into domestic arrangements are often penetrating and enlightening. However, it was difficult to get a clear picture of the protagonist, Frances. From the beginning descriptions of her thoughts and actions, she seemed much older than she actually is. Her attraction to, and love for, Karel is not particularly believable.

  • Rachel Jones
    2019-06-10 23:40

    This was recommended to me by a The World According to Garp fan and I'm such a John Irving fiend that I thought for sure I'd love this novel.I got 15 pages in and I had to give up. The never-ending neurotic inner monologue of an average, middle aged woman? Not exactly compelling material.

  • Seraphina
    2019-05-26 07:31

    I couldn't finish this book. Perhaps it was due more to the incredibly small type face than to the very slowly developing plot. Perhaps I'll try another day.

  • Emma
    2019-06-15 07:45

    Same isbn Penguin different cover

  • Mary
    2019-06-12 23:24

    Entertaining. Sometimes bogged down. Would like to read more by her. I didn't realize that she was AS Byatt's sister.

  • Dona
    2019-06-21 07:43

    This is a beautiful narrative that makes readers happy.

  • Fay
    2019-05-27 06:43

    I've read most most of her books a very long time ago.....just remember enjoying them.

  • Carolyn
    2019-06-24 07:25

    Enjoyed this. It rings true and avoids the obvious. Also fun to read.

  • Cicy
    2019-06-06 23:30

    I haven't been able to finish it... it just doesn't move fast enough for me

  • Linda Curry
    2019-05-27 01:40

    Long book but very satisfactoryThis book might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I liked it very much. Archaeology has always interested me, especially how an archaeologist lives. The characters in the book are related by profession, family, and locale. The story wanders through their lives slowly and with great honesty. There was no real plot, no adversary to dislike, nothing that usually drives a book. If you enjoyed “Farm” or other books like that, you should like this one, too. It held my interest and I liked it very much.

  • Skyler
    2019-06-17 07:18

    I gave this many stars in 1985.

  • Susan
    2019-06-20 05:28

    Very slow start, was put off by the capitalization of Despair at the beginning, and it took about half the book for me to really feel sympathy and liking for Frances. In fact I wrote myself a note on p.153 (of my edition) where it was said of Frances that she was "a confidant cook: greedy people usually are." That sort of said what I thought about her at that point--she wanted it ALL, and she seemed very self-indulgent. Perhaps that shows my own lack of patience. Then as the story evolved into her family, and Janet Bird, I got more interested in it all and could actually relate to the "dispersed family" part of the story line. Lots to think about. Too much academic talk, however.

  • Jo Marie
    2019-06-15 03:38

    Maybe 3 1/2 stars. Took a long time to really get into this rather dense book with no chapters! It did become interesting finally and I'm glad I stayed with it. Almost a study of family relationships, kinships, and love.

  • Bayneeta
    2019-06-17 07:45

    The story of a successful, independent and self indulgent woman of the '70s. Loved the author's asides to the reader, though there weren't a lot of them. Made for a good discussion, but I will not be rushing off to the library to find another Drabble book.

  • Debbie
    2019-06-12 03:38

    Slowly but interestingly unfolding story of life and career and love. We are who are natures say we are, a rather fatalistic view, and hardly fair.