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The Garrick Year

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  357 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Published August 1st 1984 by Plume (first published 1964)
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Jul 11, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
A couple of weeks ago the New Yorker sent out their summer fiction issue. Not being a huge short story fan these are not really my favorite issues. But this one included three short pieces on summer reading that I found fantastic. One talked about The Garrick Year. A well worn copy sits on the author's bookshelf at their summer cabin. He had read it multiple times while lounging on the deck or sitting by a fire.

For me, it was a very enjoyable, though somewhat melancholic, summer read. I liked t
John Jr.
Mar 05, 2012 John Jr. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Charles Dee Mitchell
Margaret Drabble was once married to an actor, and she and her husband were both members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. That she survived with little apparent damage and went on to achieve literary renown--along with editing two editions of the Oxford Companion to English Literature, she has published a number of respected novels and a biography of Arnold Bennett--gives us some reason to hope for the future of Emma Evans, her narrator in this early novel. Emma is whip-smart, precise in her ...more
Mar Preston
Jun 19, 2013 Mar Preston rated it really liked it
The narrator's voice was so lively it sprang off the page. Here's the wife of an actor living in vibrant London at the end of the 60s. He gets a chance at doing a theater season in the provinces and drags her along just as she's about to get a great job as one of the first TV women news readers. She's breastfeeding and has a toddler. Great for him; horrible for her. And she never lets him forget it.

Their marriage seems to be falling apart and both dabble in a liaison that seems to threaten their
D. George
Apr 12, 2014 D. George rated it really liked it
I picked up a rather beat-up copy of this book, a second printing (1965), from the "free" box at the Brunswick (GA) regional library, and I'm sure glad I did. Even tho this book is - my goodness! - 50 years old, the story still holds up today, tho there are references to a few people that of course we would have no idea about today.

The book is told from the POV of Emma, a sophisticated Londoner with a husband and two small children. She gives up her job as a newcaster and some-time model to foll
Aug 05, 2013 Paige rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this quiet, little-known novel. Emma Evans is intriguing and although it takes place in Hereford, England, in the 1960s, it's as accessible and relatable as something written last year. Oh to be the wife of a thespian...sounds lousy. Drabble is a wicked good writer. Talk about strong characterizations; Emma Evans seems complex next to the feckless male characters. I'd recommend this to some folks over others,'s not for everyone.
Sep 20, 2009 Terrill rated it it was ok
I read this because someone (Calvin Trillin?) mentioned it in the New Yorker as a book that everyone in his family read every summer at their cabin. It was definitely summer reading--a bit sensationalistic and fluffy--though there were some interesting bits about how housewives in the 60's viewed their lives. Apparently they entered into adultery with no thought whatsoever--that was what made it hardest for me to understand the protaganist. (Ben said, "Good.")
Feb 09, 2014 N N rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An insufferably morose heroine/narrator spends more time on recounting her whimsical attitudes to things and people than on moving the story forward. Enjoyment of the book is heavily dependent on whether or not you can share or at least appreciate the attitudes. Personally I would much rather just have her drop dead.
Oct 18, 2011 eb rated it really liked it
An artful novel about a mother of two in her early 20s who must move where her husband pleases, make pasta for her his irritating theater friends, care for her young children, and submit to having her legs crushed by the car of her lover. I'm glad I'm entering married life in 2011.
Jul 29, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it
She writes beautifully. I went back and re-read sections just to let them linger in my mind. Having said that, it feels dated and I had a hard time visualizing the environment.
May 17, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked books that get me interested on the very first page as this one did. This isn't the sort of book I would typically like, but I was unfamiliar with the author and this novel is a good shorter length for a sample. My penguin edition ran 172 pages.

My preference is for stories with likeable characters. We don't get that here. What we get is excellent writing and very sharp observations of a woman with two young children who is married to an actor. She is our narrator and this begins as a loo
Sep 03, 2013 Gina added it
I DO like to dabble in Drabble and picked up this provocatively titled novel to find what this nonpareil of a writer would do with a Soap Opera theme: a young woman married to a dynamic Welsh actor must leave the London home she loves to follow this Richard Burton fellow to the Provinces where the new Garrick Theatre will launch its first season. Perhaps the bit of black comedy when the Festival's sponsor drowns on her trans-Atlantic flight on opening night is a non-too subtle hint about the ...more
Susan Grodsky
Jul 23, 2016 Susan Grodsky rated it really liked it
I pulled this pulp paperback off my shelves because I was home sick and had finished the library books on my stack.

I bought the book in 1978 when I was in my 20s and so wanted -- needed -- to read novels with heroines who were, as I was, groping for their identities. After 40 years of life's experiences, how did the book hold up?

I still liked it, though I was, this time, impatient with the narrator's narcissism and no longer envied her magazine cover good looks.

But you can still see Emma gaining
Steven Langdon
Nov 20, 2011 Steven Langdon rated it it was ok
I am a great fan of Margaret Drabble, and have read and enjoyed many of her books over the years. But I missed one early book, "The Garrick Year," and read it recently. Too bad for me! The Emma character in this book is a real pain -- self-centred, resentful of the two young children she has had, and full of so many class and gender hangups that she sets out to have an affair, but can never really make it happen -- until it is really over in her own mind. Now a negative character can still make ...more
Muneera Salem-Murdock
Bought 1/12/16 from Op-Shop and started reading 2/28/16. Just finished reading (3/5/16). Did not find it as compelling as other books by her. It got better , though.

Once a model and now a mother of two, Emma has little life of her own. When her husband David is invited to star in two plays in Hereford, and Emma is obliged to leave her beloved London behind, the resentment begins to surface.

"Once a model and now a mother of two, Emma has little life of her own. When her husband David is invited t
Margaret Drabble’s early novels (all sadly out of print) are a lot of fun to read. Think Iris Murdoch, but slimmer novels and with less philosophical pretensions. They’re usually about bright, independent girls who are just out of Oxford and finding their way in Swinging Sixties London and whose lives are filled with poetry readings, coffee bars, and complicated love affairs with unsuitable men. Try A Summer Birdcage, The Millstone, or the one I read most recently, The Garrick Year, an acid ...more
Jul 26, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
Had the name "Margaret Drabble" not been used once in a Monty Python skit I would not have looked twice at any of her novels. To her credit, she is a gifted writer. Her prose is eloquent with being condescending. This particular book is filled with self-involved characters, all of whom are less than likable. My other qualm is that the protagonist's turnaround at the conclusion felt rushed and somewhat unrealistic. Still, the work is unerringly British and penned so flawlessly that it was worth ...more
Dec 12, 2013 Marike rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed The Garrick Year, although the idea of a young mother embarking on an affair made me feel a bit uncomfortable (before even moralising about it - having small children myself I can't think where she digged out the energy for that!). Although I did not particularly like Emma Evans, I could associate with her feelings about motherhood. This was my first Margaret Drabble read, and I liked her style. I look forward to reading more of her books.
Mar 20, 2016 Kc rated it really liked it
I read this book after hearing about it in a collection of essays by New Yorker editor Roger Angell. It's a wonderful character study about actors and the theater and gives you real, though complex people to wonder about and want to know better.
Mar 18, 2010 Matthew rated it really liked it
A nice response to all the Angry Young Man books. The narrator is intensely difficult to like, which is odd because the story's set up for you to feel completely bad for her. The ending's maybe a little too symbolic, but otherwise it's worth reading.
Oct 24, 2012 Rhonda rated it it was amazing
One of those books that prove that characters don't have to be likeable... Beautifully written and incredibly perceptive, a must-read for all married women with young kids (and anyone who wants to understand them!)
Gail rated it really liked it
Oct 21, 2009
Sara rated it it was ok
Jul 12, 2012
Lgkaupk rated it it was ok
Oct 30, 2011
Ellie rated it it was amazing
Jan 03, 2011
Kristi rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2009
James Magruder
James Magruder rated it it was amazing
Dec 09, 2009
Kathy Henderson
Kathy Henderson rated it it was amazing
Feb 16, 2014
Emma Ward
Emma Ward rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2015
Oct 30, 2010 Nettie rated it did not like it
Honestly, this was just about a cranky woman who didn't get any less cranky. Couldn't finish it.
Deirdre O'Brien
Deirdre O'Brien rated it it was ok
Feb 21, 2016
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Dame Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen novels including A Summer Bird-Cage, The Millstone, The Peppered Moth, The Red Queen, The Sea Lady and most recently, the highly acclaimed The Pure Gold Baby. She has also written biographies, screenplays and was the editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. ...more
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