Cover image for The seven sisters
The seven sisters
Drabble, Margaret, 1939-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2002]

Physical Description:
306 pages ; 22 cm
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Candida Wilton--a woman recently betrayed, rejected, divorced, and alienated from her three grown daughters--moves from a beautiful Georgian house in lovely Suffolk to a two-room walk-up flat in a run-down building in central London. Candida is not exactly destitute. So, is the move perversity, she wonders, a survival test, or is she punishing herself? How will she adjust to this shabby, menacing, but curiously appealing city? What can happen, at her age, to change her life? And yet, as sheclimbs the dingy communal staircase with her suitcases, she feels both nervous and exhilarated.
There is a relationship with a computer to which she now confides her past and her present. And friendships of sorts with other women--widows, divorced, never married, women straddled between generations. And then Candida's surprise inheritance . . .
A beautifully rendered story, this is Margaret Drabble at her novelistic best.

Author Notes

Margaret Drabble was born on June 5, 1939 in Sheffield, England. She attended The Mount School in York and Newnham College, Cambridge University. After graduation, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford during which time she understudied for Vanessa Redgrave.

She is a novelist, critic, and the editor of the fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Her works include A Summer Bird Cage; The Millstone, which won the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize in 1966; Jerusalem the Golden, which won James Tait Black Prize in 1967; and The Witch of Exmoor. She also received the E. M. Forster award and was awarded a Society of Authors Travelling Fellowship in the 1960s and the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1980.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Drabble's shrewd and charming diarist-narrator escaped the prison of her unhappy marriage after the death of a student led to exposure of her head-master husband's affair with the girl's mother. Candida chooses not to stay in Suffolk and strangle in the web of gossip but rather to purchase a condo in a not altogether safe yet intriguingly multicultural London neighborhood. There she determinedly explores her new world and signs up for a class on Virgil's Aeneid. When the College for Further Education is transformed into a health club, she misses Virgil and the simpatico company of her fellow students and instructor. So she reconvenes the group, adds two demanding friends from her previous life, and convinces "the seven sisters" to embark on a pilgrimage to retrace the steps Virgil took in his tracking of Aeneas. And what a transforming journey it is. Drabble's prose is lustrous and enchanting, and her play on classical themes adds dimension to her discerning assessment of our digitized, global society, and the metamorphosis of a woman poised not for the expected capitulation to age and isolation but, rather, for splendid renewal. As in The Witch of Exmoor (1997) and The Peppered Moth [BKL F 15 01], Drabble creates a subversively witty novel that rivals works by Anita Brookner, Margaret Atwood, and Penelope Lively. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The narrator of Drabble's teasingly clever new novel, like several of her fictional predecessors (in The Witch of Endor and The Peppered Moth) is a lonely, middle-aged woman disillusioned with her life and wary about her future. Betrayed and divorced by her husband, the smug headmaster of a school in Suffolk, and estranged from her three grown daughters, Candida Wilton moves to a flat in a rundown, slightly dangerous London neighborhood. To fill her days, she takes a class in Virgil, until the adult-ed building is taken over by a health club, which she joins for lack of anything better to do. The first section of the narrative is Candida's computer diary, in which she tries to make sense of the circumstances that have led her to this narrow place in her life, and her tentative efforts to reach out and make new friends. Though she apologizes for "the bleating, whining, resentful, martyred tone I seem to have adopted," Candida's account has the fresh veracity of someone who's a newcomer to London and to the state of being single. While Drabble paints her as sexually cold and maternally reserved, given to French phrases and snobbish assessments, Candida is a character the reader grudgingly admires as she tries to maintain hope that she can turn her life around. Then a small miracle occurs. A financial windfall allows her to take some of her fellow Virgil aficionados and two old friends on a trip to Tunis and Sicily, following the footsteps of Aeneas. Candida learns more about her companions as the trip progresses and gains some insights into her own behavior. The narrative takes several surprising turns, throwing the reader as off-center as Candida has become and proving that Candida herself has not been candid. But Drabble has: Candida's evasive account accurately charts the psychological territory of one who is suddenly cast adrift. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lucinda Wilton pulls up stakes and settles into a dreary walk-up apartment in London for the adventure of her life. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.