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The Seven Sisters

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  986 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
When circumstances compel her to start over late in her life, Candida Wilton moves from a beautiful Georgian house in lovely Suffolk to a two-room, walk-up flat in a run-down building in central London--and begins to pour her soul into a diary. Candida is not exactly destitute. So, is the move perversity, she wonders, a survival test, or is she punishing herself? How will ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 13th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 2002)
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Jul 22, 2007 SarahC rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: story about change, not taking yourself too seriously, finding who you are and liking the answer
this is my favorite Margaret Drabble book to date. For this book, I would love to meet her, buy her dinner, and tell her how in awe of her I am. It is about how to love life, literature, change, yourself. There is nothing standard about this tale -- Margaret Drabble clearly raises the bar. It is wit defined.
Jun 21, 2012 Philip rated it it was amazing
The Seven Sisters is a superb novel by Margaret Drabble. Seven characters – who all happen to be women – eventually find themselves on a classically-inspired Mediterranean journey. It is a trip of literary and perhaps psychological significance. Thus extracted from their respective comfort zones – if comfort is a relevant term to describe their life-scarred lives – they react individually to their collective experience in quite different ways, differences driven by personality and personal histo ...more
David Franks
Sep 29, 2013 David Franks rated it it was amazing
Why do I enjoy Margaret Drabble’s books so much? I realised one day, when I was reading a passage in one of her books, it’s partly because she’s not Jane Austen. I started off, a young man, enthralled by Jane Austen, read and re-read her books until I knew them by heart. I played the Jane Austen game with like-minded friends: what did Mr Woodhouse recommend that Mrs Bates should eat at his evening party; what did Anne Elliot and Captain Benwick discuss at the dinner at the Harville’s house at Ly ...more
Aug 02, 2011 Ensiform rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Candida Wilton, a divorcee of a certain (past middle-aged) years, lives alone in an apartment in London. Writing a diary on her new laptop, she tells of her estrangement from her daughters and her husband’s infidelity in analytical, impersonal tones. She makes a new friend or two and puts up with the occasional attentions of some old friends whom she has mixed feelings for. Then she comes into a large sum of money, and funds a trip to Tunisia in Anaeas’ shoes, bringing six other women in her new ...more
Jan 19, 2012 kymdotcom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This book was bad for me. All I want to do now is wank about learning Latin and go back to Naples.
Aug 20, 2010 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"We hadn't had time to bulid up an easy extra-mural social life" (12).
"...clouds that lay parallel above the horizon like Magritte baguettes" (19).
"Writers have to tell. It's what they do. It's what they are for" (32).
"She digresses to the forbidden subject of solitaire" (35).
“The machine hasn’t got a cliché-spotter, but its cool objective format throws them into high relief” (52).
“At first sight, the produce looked varied and quite tempting, but on closer inspection the charm palled” (57).
“I fe
Ben Babcock
Mar 15, 2012 Ben Babcock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2012-read
I went into this book without high expectations. Not only did I know little about Margaret Drabble or The Seven Sisters but I acquired this from the same person who gave me Love the One You’re With , so … yeah. Provenance aside, this book turned out to be immensely satisfying. Drabble creates a main character and narrator who is fallible and sympathetic, and the story she tells is firmly grounded in realism even as she carefully interrogates the recesses of the human heart.

The back of the book
Jul 01, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok
At the end of it all, I'm really unsure what this book is about... the salvation to be found in good company? Redemption of the meek through a heady dose of independence? Travel therapy? Why I'm glad I took Latin instead of a more "practical" language?
Forgive my levity, I am truly muddled - M. Drabble is the author of two of my favorite books of all time: the Realms of Gold and the Radiant Way. Both followed interesting characters, unrolled captivating plots and underscored all with questions (i
Jun 15, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it
After some months abroad in far-flung literary landscapes, I tend to return to Margaret Drabble as a sort of literary comfort food, though since this may be the 17th of her 18 novels I have read, it may soon become time to look elsewhere.
By contrast to what I think of as the "writer's workshop" sort of writers who take on the personae of people entirely alien to their actual experience, I rather like the fact that the protagonist of any given Drabble novel is almost always a cultivated middle-cl
May 31, 2009 Nancy rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I would genuinely enjoy sitting down for a cup of coffee with those readers who enjoyed this book; I found it dispiriting and tedious and would like to understand what I missed in my reading of this dreary tome.

If this was not a selection of my book club, I would not have made it through the first 75 pages and, as it was, I plodded along without much enthusiasm until the narrator appeared to change the course of her life.

Perhaps my challenge is that the narrator is a "lady of a certain age" and
Sandra Lawson
Feb 12, 2011 Sandra Lawson rated it really liked it
A beautiful story demonstrating that you're never too old. I've been a Margaret Drabble fan for years and it's interesting to see how her life experiences and her current age inform her subject matter.
Kieran Walsh
Sep 28, 2010 Kieran Walsh rated it liked it
An interesting coming of age book, which I tend to enjoy, typically. The protagonist, however, is an unlikely subject - recently divorced headmaster's wife, with a disinterested attachment to her three children and recent arriveal in London. Along the way Candidia's life becomes rather cliched. She 'comes into' money, joins a health club, takes a night class, makes a set of new friends and goes on a cruise to Italy.
The literary twist, however, is that her character barely evolves from her borin
Ann Canann
Jul 14, 2011 Ann Canann rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
I am an American and a huge fan of the very English writer Margaret Drabble who was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire. I love her sister A.S. Byatt too. I'm sure I would love her entire family. What I really love is her delicious use of the English language, but then she is an editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. She makes the short list of my absolutely favorite writers. And in this book she is at the top of her form.

“The Seven Sisters” is a book that speaks directly to me. It is a
Nov 20, 2014 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: ladies-writin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 12, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Candida Wilton is stuck. Her husband has left her. She is estranged from her children. She has moved off to the wilds of London and all that is keeping her grounded are her visits to the health club and writing in her journal. And then, quite unexpectedly, her friends.

As one becomes...well, let's just say is nice to reflect on the experiences of others who have passed through this time and lived to tell of their adventures. Books are a very nice way to visit these hinterlands uns
Jan 15, 2015 Deborah rated it really liked it
My first Margaret Drabble. It's hard to say why you don't pick up an author sometimes - none of her books appealed to me more than what was already on my reading list. Well now I will be reading more Margaret. This book was a strange journey. So well written - the character of Candida Wilton emerging and disappearing as she writes her pseudo diary. It's almost a mystery, trying to work out what is real and what's not. Somehow all the other characters emerge too and what starts out as a fairly ne ...more
Jul 06, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
Candida Wilton, a divorcee past middle age, is facing a life alone, estranged from her daughters and living in a two-room walk-up in a seedy London neighborhood. She is lonely, feeling sorry for herself, but not doing much to improve her situation. When she comes into some unexpected money, a small fortune in fact, her life begins to change. She invites five other women her age and older, whom she knows, to take a trip with her, and along with their driver/guide in Tunis and then Naples, they co ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Sandy rated it really liked it
This book very different from anything that I've read for a very long time. While I semi struggled to get into the story, I somehow couldn't stop reading it either. I was rewarded because the ending of the story was very interesting!
May 06, 2011 Melody rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melody by: Ellen Sullivan
It's one of those books that make a nice little shiver run up your back and a tiny little squeeze of tears come out of your eyes when you finish. Don't know what the formula is to produce such an effect. I think it's at least one multi-faceted character, a little plot (doesn't have to be much - but I do require some plot) and some non-predictability. Yep. I think that might sum it up. And as for my reviews - I don't feel the need to report one bit of information about what the book's about. Just ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Veronica rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Hmmm ... well, this is the first Margaret Drabble I've read, and I'm afraid I was distinctly underwhelmed. It starts out as the diary of fifty-something discarded wife Candida Wilton, uprooted from the life of a headmaster's wife at a posh school in rural Suffolk to a tiny flat in Notting Hill. I suppose Drabble does a good job of putting across the limited view point of someone who has led such a sheltered life, but it doesn't make Candida a very endearing character. Nor does the text really re ...more
Gabi Coatsworth
Jul 01, 2014 Gabi Coatsworth rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I like Margaret Drabble, so I looked forward to reading this. its very much in her usual style, but it read like a book from the 50's or 60's. I was surprised to find references to cell phones and other 'modern' items in the book. In that sense it felt like an oddity. I think I liked it because the protagonist was about my age and lives in London I could relate to her. the structure is a little odd, but I rolled with the punches and enjoyed it.
Mar 05, 2015 Julia rated it liked it
This is the diary musings of a 50 something year old English woman, Candida, who is recently divorced. She moves away from her beautiful home and rents a dilapidated apartment in London, feeling rejected and quite alone, and yet has a sense of excitement about what she might do, if she gets up the nerve.

She writes about her philandering ex-husband and his new wife, and her 3 estranged daughters, in a kind of detached and analytical tone. She is typing her diary on her new laptop.

When she does ge
Mar 02, 2014 Jgknobler rated it really liked it
A newly-divorced woman nearing 60 moves to London and begins to make her way, aided by a now-cancelled class on Virgil (simply cannot imagine this being offered at a US continuing ed venue!) and the health club that has replaced the school. She is cranky and fearful but open to new ventures, and thus a character I could very much relate to. She comes into a bit of money unexpectedly, and uses it to finance a trip, with friends and a guide, to Tunisia and Naples, retracing a trip taken by Aeneas ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betrayed and divorced, Candida moves to a sketchy neighborhood in West London and begins, slowly, to rebuild her life. When she comes into some unexpected money, she gathers friends – some old, some new – for a trip to Naples. The group of disparate women have in common an interest in Virgil, and go first to Tunisia so that they can approach Naples by sea, as Aeneas did.

They leave London in a cold drizzle. In one of my favorite passages –( I am reading this in January after all )_ in her typica
Apr 15, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, british-lit
Interesting style and fresh approach to a story of a middle-age woman who finds it necessary to begin life again after divorce.
Jan 07, 2012 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction
On the whole, this was good; readable, at times witty. A tale of a woman in her fifties who's glad to be divorced and remaking her life, even if in a largely timid manner. The narration is mildly suspect, however. The first section is in first person, the second in third, the third and fourth in first (I don't want to reveal too much about that, but...) Our protagonist, writing her diary, is a woman with no admitted prior experience writing, and while I am, I think, nearly always willing to acce ...more
May 01, 2012 Lesley rated it liked it
This was the first Margaret Drabble book I’ve read. I enjoyed parts of it, appreciated the skill of her writing and the humour, but parts annoyed me.

She obviously ‘gets’ the 60ish woman and the characters of the ‘Seven Sisters’ were well drawn. I felt I had met aspects of them in friends, family and even myself.

I liked the realism of Candida’s life and enjoyed the way she appeared to take a pigeon-step approach to her voyage of self-discovery. Her character made no miraculous growth and she gai
Dec 29, 2009 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Although this reader is overly familiar with the storyline of a 50ish divorcee re-starting her life in the big city, I enjoyed The Seven Sisters very much. As a matter of fact, once I started the book I couldn't put it down. It's always refreshing to read another take on one's own situation although Candida,a doubly well-chosen name,is almost annoyingly passive at times. Yet that's a part of the process she's undertaken by moving out on her own for the first time in her life and moving to London ...more
Dec 02, 2011 John rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, fiction
This, the first work I have read by Drabble left me with mixed feelings. This work traces Candida (all sorts of allusion and inferences can be made becasue of this characters name), a recent divorcee as she moves to London and slowly accumulates a diverse collection of friends. This group ultimately plans, and travels on a joint holiday to greece and other mediterranean venues.
The novel is partitioned into a couple of distinct sections, the first which is told in the first person, traces Cand

I have not read Margaret Drabble’s entire extensive list of novels, but I have always enjoyed them from as far back as I can recall. I think the first one I read was Jerusalem the Golden in 1967 and over forty years later she is still writing entertaining and literary novels.
The humour and excellent characterisation is up to the author’s normal high standards.
‘The Seven Sisters’ is not written in chapters but in four parts, which made it a little harder t
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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.

Drabble has famously been engaged in a long-running feud with her novelist sister, A.S. Byatt, over the alleged appropriation of a family tea-set in one of her nove
More about Margaret Drabble...

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