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The Millstone

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,734 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Margaret Drabble’s affecting novel, set in London during the 1960s, about a casual love affair, an unplanned pregnancy, and one young woman’s decision to become a mother.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 15th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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This is the story of a young academic in the mid 1960s who finds herself accidentally pregnant, and single.

I first read this covertly in my early teens, having been shocked to find it on my (very conservative) mother's shelves. I remember being very moved by it, though too naive and inexperienced to relate to much of it. Nearly 30 years and one (planned) child later, I found it an excellent piece of writing, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

Times may have changed in terms of the social acce
Mar 20, 2015 Bruce rated it it was amazing
London in the early 1960s is a place where casual sex is becoming acceptable, but having a child out of wedlock is not. Twenty-six year old scholar and doctoral student Rosamund Stacey is dating two men whose company she enjoys, but she’s really not interested in getting physical with either one. She more interested in Elizabethan poets and her academic career. Then a chance meeting with a likable radio announcer leads to an invitation to her flat, and after her first and only sexual encounter s ...more
Dec 02, 2015 Kyc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm among the few who read this and got upset with the ending. While the novel is readable and - at least for the four-fifths of its length - manages to be largely inoffensive for such a subject (single motherhood in the 60s), it ends with the kind of run-of-the-mill writing one associates with Mills and Boon romances. Rosamund Stacey, the Cambridge postgraduate, is so bland one can hardly associate her with anything concerning (gasp!) sexuality. Somehow she manages to beget an illegitim ...more
Joe Clarke
The book was OK, but I didn't like the heroine much. The sort of person you wouldn't want to be friends with in real life.
Nov 17, 2012 Steph rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This is one of those books where the subject matter (female scholar has unplanned pregnancy and decides to keep the baby) is of little interest to me, yet I could not stop reading. I found the writing really enthralling, and Drabble's tone was exactly in my literary wheelhouse. Was so perfectly wry and British, I loved the dry humor and loved the narrator's voice; for that alone I couldn't help but keep reading, not because I couldn't bear to not find out how the story resolved itself, but simpl ...more
Apr 11, 2013 Lightblue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Millstone
Sono venuta a conoscenza di questo libro perchè incuriosita dalla casa editrice Astoria che non conoscevo ma che, a quanto pare, pubblica delle piccole perle.
Non conoscevo neppure l'autrice, sorella minore della scrittrice A. S. Byatt (autrice di Possessione), con cui vive però un rapporto molto conflittuale.
Il libro racconta la storia di Rosamund, una giovane e nubile londinese che negli anni '60 si trova a dover gestire una gravidanza non pianificata. Rosamund rimane incinta dop
Aug 14, 2009 Af rated it did not like it
I bought this principally because the author's the half-sister of A.S.Byatt (who is utterly wonderful) and I'd come across their work being compared, and it was priced at 30p. But it was utter sop. Unconvincing woman academic gets pregnant (the only time she has sex, ever), then finds complete fulfilment in her baby.. She could at least get some geeky stuff about Elizabethan poetry in, but no, we stick to baby adoration... Perhaps some of Margaret D's stuff is better - I'm pretty sure she was OB ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Ivana rated it it was amazing
Well, it has been said so much about it during years.
What I like about Drabble is her simple yet distinctive style.. Witty and intelligent sentences in which one can easily find himself. It was a book of my youth,and still I read it from time to time... Strangely ,I still find it inspiring and same interesting, as if I am reading it for the first time.....

Definately one of my favourite book ever
Jan 16, 2008 Rory rated it it was ok
This one is definitely comfort food. I don't think it was actually good, but I read it three times because I bought it when I was traveling and carried it from place to place for years afterward.
Oct 11, 2015 Edith rated it it was amazing
Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone begins with an introduction into the mindset of the narrator Rosamund, a scholar focusing on her PhD in Elizabethan sonnet sequences while living in her middle class parents flat in England. In the beginning, Rosamund carefully explains her previous reservations about sex and relationships. She is hopeless when it comes to sex specifically and has focused all her abilities towards her work in which she is very successful. Her mindset is unfortunately one in which ...more
Daniel Mestiz
Beyond all the drabbling on, it was an easy read and there were some moments where i appreciated the imagery...

Here's a scene where the protagonist, Rosamund, has taken home George, an acquaintance she is interested in:

As he followed me into the kitchen, he seemed a little subdued by the grand parental atmosphere which never quite left the place, and i had a moment of horrid fright: perhaps he wasn't quite up to my kind of thing, perhaps i should never have tried to talk to him for more than fiv
Jul 15, 2016 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Drabble's consistently high calibre output of fiction, biography and scholarly writing over a career spanning more than fifty years is remarkable. Of special note are her iconic novels of the 1960s: in which, while still in her twenties, she established herself as one of the most literate and psychologically astute voices of her generation. The Millstone is her third novel, published in 1965 when the author was twenty-six. Rosamund Stacey, a young graduate student writing a thesis on th ...more
Questo libro è stato proprio una bella scoperta. È stato prima di tutto un acquisto impulsivo fatto ad Hay-on-Wye, paesino gallese famoso per le tantissime librerie di seconda mano e per il festival del libro che si svolge lì ogni anno.

Sono stata ad Hay-on-Wye una piovosa giornata di inizio aprile e ho fatto incetta di libri, e tra la decina che ho comprato c'era anche questo. Il motivo per cui l'ho comprato non è molto nobile - volevo un libro Penguin degli anni '70 e ho scelto questo perché i
Jul 06, 2016 Hyowon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top100, fiction
This was my first Drabble book, after having listened to BBC interview with the author on her many books. This book is short, has only a small number of characters, which I liked. The narrative of the main character, Rosamund Stacey, was very interesting, witty, touching and it has a few very memorable comments that she observes. I loved this book so much that I couldn't stop thinking about it once I read it; I had to re-read immediately after I finished. I continued repeatedly reading this book ...more
May 25, 2015 Christopher rated it really liked it
"The Millstone," published in 1965, must have been a startling novel for its time, given that its protagonist is a young woman who accidentally gets pregnant after her one and only experience with sexual intercourse and then decides to keep the child, with no plans to tell her one-time lover that he is the father. It's a book about finding oneself and about becoming an adult. At first, it's a trying read, since Rosamund - our narrator and heroine - seems so passive in the face of all aspects of ...more
Ameesha Green
Feb 28, 2016 Ameesha Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book club choice, this isn't a book I'd have normally picked up, especially with my edition's corny tagline, "Rosamund is clever, very independent - and pregnant". On the contrary, I found her highly intellectual and academically intelligent, but with little common sense or real-world knowledge. However, I found myself unexpectedly entertained. Drabble's writing style is distinct, and suits her protagonist's intellect well. The book is at times amusing, and despite the circumstances of an unma ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Sep 06, 2015 Cindy Dyson Eitelman rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Very peculiar. Quintessential scholar with not-so-great social skills gets pregnant by accident and is too shy, unassertive, and possibly conflicted, to terminate it in the early stages. Will she or won't she? Will she get dismissed from her position? Will she ever tell the father? Or even her own father?

I'm not telling. It sounds like a good little mystery but it's more--it's an introspection. And quite a good one. In the progress of her problem, she comes out of her private little world and ob
Apr 07, 2014 NancyHelen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
It is the mark of a great author, that she can write a novel about something as simple as a woman falling pregnant by accident and having a baby, and it be so compelling. The narrator, Rosamund, is so real. Her self-awareness, including her flaws and failings, are incredibly endearing. I am not sure I would have appreciated this book quite as much if I hadn't of had children myself but it was just so delicately written, I couldn't put it down. The emotion was quite overwhelming at times. I thank ...more
Lucie Novak
Jun 05, 2014 Lucie Novak rated it liked it
I remember reading it as a young woman. In Czechoslovakia, getting a termination of pregnancy was simple, a freedom unusual in such a restrictive society.
And at the time of reading this very well written book, I was convinced that if I got pregnant, I would not keep the baby.
I never really thought about it.
This book made me think. The dilemmas were well written. She even tries to get rid of the pregnancy by a hot bath and a bottle of gin. Doesn't work.
The book made me think about other options.
Mar 29, 2015 Daryn rated it really liked it
This book seems modest in scale, but I think it was a quietly radical novel of the mid-sixties. It's kind of like the flip side of the supposedly "liberated" sexuality that you get from the typical sixties novel by Updike, Roth, and Mailer. The main character is a Renaissance literature scholar who becomes pregnant after her first misbegotten sexual encounter. The rest of the novel follows her struggle as she decides to have the baby on her own without telling the father. The parts which describ ...more
Saravana Kumar
Rosamund Stacey is a kind of girl who believes that nothing in life really last. Her life is very normal, usual-routine and boring. But this changes when she sleeps with George and becomes pregnant. This unplanned pregnancy opens up a different world to her. The writing rhymes with the story mood. The narrative before she gets pregnant is dull. But one gets engaged with the story during her last few months of pregnancy and the delivery.
The best part of this book comes when Rosamund delivers Octa
Karen Wolff
Jan 20, 2016 Karen Wolff rated it liked it
Shelves: margaret-drabble
A touching tale of the love a mother has for her child despite difficult circumstances. Although I have to say that this mother, for the 60s seemed very protected against the discrimination that she would have otherwise experienced.

It was a well written story by a well known author and my first read by her. I enjoyed it, but it didn't captivate me like other novels do.

It did, however, make we wonder about the love bond between mother and child and made me feel I had missed some thing in my life.
Sep 30, 2010 jeniwren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This was a book I picked up at a recent local book fair and my introduction
to Drabble's writing . The main character is a highly
educated woman in the 1960's who loses her virginity to a casual
acquaintance and then finds herself pregnant. The writing is excellent with
insights into society attitudes and the difficulties faced by an unmarried
woman and motherhood caught up in the assembly-line indifference of the
National Health system. I will definitely be reading more
from this author with A Radiant
Fernando Jimenez
Dec 22, 2016 Fernando Jimenez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novela feminista sobre una madre soltera en el Londres de la liberación sexual y el pop de los 60. El delicado y complejo retrato psicológico que Drabble emprende a partir de su personaje le sirve para reivindicar la libertad de la mujer a partir de elementos que ahora pueden parecer paradójicos como cierta frigidez sexual, una maternidad no buscada o una posición social acomodada. La prosa de la autora es de una fluidez poco habitual.
Jul 16, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and Self

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Oct 03, 2014 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Library reading group book. A short novel based in 1960s London of a young woman who falls pregnant and shocks those around her by deciding to keep the child. It raises interesting questions regarding motherhood, society and love despite being a relatively simple and uncomplicated narrative. I enjoyed it because it was easy to read but also offered moments of reflection. There was nothing particularly amazing about it, which is why it onyl deserved 3 stars. However I would recommend it.
Sep 14, 2016 Natasja rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it, 2016
Mooi en eenvoudig verhaal. Niet zo meeslepend dat ik het niet opzij kon leggen, maar goed geschreven, met slimme en subtiele humor, en een symphatiek hoofdpersonage van vlees en bloed. Eigenlijk gebeurt er niet zoveel, een jonge vrouw wordt ongewenst zwanger en laat alles wat daarna gebeurt (niet geweldig veel dus) over haar heen komen. Een leven dat geleid wordt door het niet nemen van beslissingen. Maar dat is ook een leven. Mooie boodschap eigenlijk...
Sep 03, 2008 Doralyn rated it really liked it
This is not an exciting book, but it's wonderfully written. It's the kind of book one reads for the words. I found the ending disappointing however, as the thin slip of plot that was in the book falls apart when my expectations regarding a confrontation with the baby's father fizzle. But, like I said, if you're reading this, you're involvement isn't about plot.
Jacqui Tayler
Jan 27, 2009 Jacqui Tayler rated it really liked it
I wasn't a fan of this book as such. I liked the story line even though it didn't really seem to go anywhere fast...the main thing I didn't like about it was the main character's attitude..I found it very negative and at times found it hard to keep reading...I am still unsure of whether the main character actually learns her lesson and grows up even after she has the baby....
Mar 16, 2015 Tom rated it it was amazing
Drabble is a great writer. This wonderful novella (a monologue, really) of a woman in early 60s London is a classic. Rosamund's journey goes from detachment to engagement. I always love that story, and as told here it is funny and moving. Read this book.
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Formal Review 1 5 Oct 11, 2015 08:24PM  
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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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