Friday, May 27

Labyrinth of feelings in a novel with an intimate and feminine look

Cover of 'A cage in a summer garden'.

Cover of ‘A cage in a summer garden’.
Alba Editorial

The estrangement and mistrust between two young sisters, Sarah and Louise, very different, threads a deeply psychologically charged story which takes the reader into a universe of social relationships in which money, marriage, infidelity, beauty and envy are also protagonists.

Narrated in first person by Sarah Bennett, who has just graduated from Oxford with a brilliant record and who feels misplaced in life after a trip to Paris, the novel starkly reveals the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts unleashed in her by her older sister, who has married a famous writer. That marriage is Louise’s passport to a world full of glamor, luxury and success in London high society that contrasts with the disorder and vital confusion in which the protagonist is plunged.

The sentimental plot that concocts Margaret Drabble (Sheffield, 1939), sustained by the quarrels between the two sisters and wrapped in a literary style in which everyday dialogues shine, seduces the reader into the interest of unraveling the intrigues that surround the enigmatic and overwhelming personality of Louise.

A cage in a summer garden (A Summer Bird-Cage), published for the first time in 1963, marks the path of that feminine vision and theme that has enshrined Drabble’s literature over the years, with works that, like The Garrick Year (1964) o The Millstone (1965), place the woman at the center of the argument.

Under the probable influence of The second sex, the famous book by Simone de BeauvoirMargaret Drabble proposes, in fact, a deep reflection on the meaning of being a woman in a society that was beginning to take timid steps towards gender equality. At the beginning of the 1960s, more and more brilliant women were graduating from prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge and who, despite their magnificent training, not only lacked, like Sarah, a defined professional vocation but also a predisposition To marriage. Locking up at home, spending hours doing housework and raising children as the ultimate goal of their existence had ceased to be an absolute priority for them, as the early Margaret Drabble novels well reflect.

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The dawn of this cultural change places women before a disconcerting diatribe that masterfully portrays A cage in a summer garden and that leads them on an introspective journey to try to reveal, from a feminine sensitivity, issues so basic, and at the same time complex , like the very meaning of marriage, the immorality of adultery, the value of motherhood or the importance of money.

The social and cultural life of London at that time, fashion and hairstyle as personality traits and interest in art and history are not lacking, through scathing dialogues, such as i‘Gourmet’ ingredients from the succulent literary delicacy that the British author prepares her readers.

The new edition of the book for the Rara Avis collection by Alba Editorial, with translation by Marta Salís, brings us closer to the exciting literature of a Margaret Drabble who, incomprehensibly, is not a well-known author in Spain.

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