Jigsaws and Margaret Drabble's The Pattern in the Carpet

Hints for completing a jigsaw
(in addition to advice in Drabble's The Pattern in the Carpet)

Hints for writing a novel in the NaNoWriMo chellenge

Drabble's The Pattern in the Carpet

Margaret Drabble's philosophy of puzzle solving is a little more linear than mine:

However I am increasingly of the mind to complete some bold interior portion first, such as a curving grey highway with freshly painted lemon stripes along it, and leave the mundanity of the edges for later or for others.

In addition to dipping into strategies for jigsaw-solving and reminisces of Auntie Phyl, Drabble is enthusiastic to dip into literature, such as:

As for the origin of the jigsaw:

What is the appeal to Drabble of the jigsaw?


In her untitled chapters she also includes discussion of copyright of the illustrations and the variable adherence to appropriate credit for the artwork.

And we return to the Oulipean with:

And in conclusion:

2006: The Sea Lady

Here, Drabble's intellectual "topic" is marine biology and her social topic (in addition to the usual feminism) is manipulation or control.

Three boys and a girl spend a month in a north England (south Scotland?) seaside village. Their relationships continue (though with some large intervals) into old age, with their varied view points and reliabilities. A charming read.

One of her characters, called the Public Orator, a reader-accosting narrator, turns out to be not so much a jarring modish-break-the-4th-way conceit as just an old guy with a job to do and strings to pull, and an ability to write a "forgiving" brief biography of the pushy, self-promoting, and self-absorbed heroine:

2013: The Pure Gold Baby

Here, Drabble's intellectual "topic" is anthropology. Her social topic (in addition to the usual feminism) is the care of those less able to care for themselves.

The novel studies the mothering of a happy and well-loved girl, Anna, who is:

The mother in the story, Jess, had trained as an anthropologist, and was grounded by her single-mummy pregnancy. The novel is Drabble's exploration of how helpful local friends can be, how a partly socialist system can also provide fragments of support, and how one muddles through.

Along the way, we learn some pop-anthropology. And we also learn a little about what Jess/Drabble thinks of "arch-parodist Vladimir Nabokov", Dr. "Livingston as a proto-imperial trader with a gun, as she had been taught to do", Lionel Penrose whose 'law' "stated that the population of prisons and psychiatric hospitals is inversely related", William Wordsworth, and others.

It stays (illuminated by its mini-lecture detours) mainly on message, apart from a few small excursions such as this into global warming:

With a support system around her, mainly her mother and her mother's friends, Jess's daughter Anna grows into a protected adulthood.

Which puts it back on us. What whould you do?

Time Line

Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK.
Graduated from the University of Cambridge with a 'double starred first in English'.
Publication of first novel: A Summer Bird-Cage.
Publication of The Garrick Year.
3rd novel: The Millstone.
Nonfiction: The Wordsworth (Literature in Perspective series).
John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for The Millstone.
Jerusalem the Golden, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
5th novel: The Waterfall.
Movie: A Touch of Love (film version of The Millstone).
Paris Review interview by Barbara Milton.
The Needle's Eye.
Virginia Woolf: A Personal Debt.
E. M. Forster Award.
Nonfiction: Arnold Bennett: A Biography.
The Realms of Gold.
Marriage dissolved.
Nonfiction: The Genius of Thomas Hardy (editor).
The Ice Age.
Nonfiction: For Queen and Country: Britain in the Victorian Age.
Nonfiction: A Writer's Britain: Landscape in Literature.
The Middle Ground.
Edited The Oxford Companion to English Literature (5th edition).
10th novel: The Radiant Way.
A Natural Curiosity.
The Gates of Ivory.
Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Nonfiction: Angus Wilson: A Biography.
The Witch of Exmoor.
Nonfiction: Edited The Oxford Companion to English Literature (6th edition).
The Peppered Moth.
15th novel: The Seven Sisters.
The Red Queen.
17th novel: The Sea Lady.
Promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Nonfiction: The Pattern in the Carpet: a Personal History with Jigsaws.
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, a collection of Drabble's short stories.
Awarded the Golden PEN Award by the English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".
18th novel: The Pure Gold Baby.