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The Seven Sisters

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,381 ratings  ·  184 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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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,381 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Jul 22, 2007 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.
Lyn Elliott
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
I came away from our book discussion group last week with a much better understanding of The Seven Sisters than I had when I finished reading it myself.

I was puzzled by the structure, the triple voice shift, the apparent death of the main character (reported apparently by a cranky daughter) and what seemed to be a rather half-hearted winding up of the story.

There's no doubt about the first section - here we have a woman in her mid-late 50s, divorced by her husband, living in a drab part of
David Franks
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Why do I enjoy Margaret Drabbles books so much? I realised one day, when I was reading a passage in one of her books, its partly because shes 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 Harvilles house at Lyme ...more
May 10, 2009 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
Jun 21, 2012 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 history. ...more
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Margaret Drabble novel and I really enjoyed it. It is framed as a diary of a late middle aged woman, Candida Wilton, who is forced to start her life over after a divorce and a move from countrified Suffolk to gritty London. Candida is estranged from her three daughters and has no close friends. But in her writing, she gives herself away if you read between the lines. She isnt the wronged woman in quite the way it might seem superficially. She is also often, perhaps ...more
Kara Babcock
Apr 13, 2011 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 Youre 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
Aug 02, 2011 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 husbands 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
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2012 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 17, 2010 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 hasnt 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 felt an
Jun 23, 2009 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
Jul 06, 2011 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
Jun 15, 2009 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
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
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
Jan 15, 2015 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 ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
This was the first Margaret Drabble book Ive 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 Candidas 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 gained
Kieran Walsh
Sep 28, 2010 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
May 23, 2010 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
Gabi Coatsworth
Jul 01, 2014 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.
Emma Scattergood
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm still trying to make up my mind about this book. It is beautifully written, cleverly constructed and Drabble observes and captures the small details of relationships so well. Yet I was irritated that Candida's "change" came about by a sudden windfall and that being 60 was portrayed as being so depressing!
Sandra Lawson
Feb 10, 2011 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.
Jan 12, 2016 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!
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2015
A slight but charming story of a divorcee and estranged mother finding friendship and fulfilment in late middle age
Mary H.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
Interesting style and fresh approach to a story of a middle-age woman who finds it necessary to begin life again after divorce.
Kevin Darbyshire
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another reread of this wonderful story. I love the diverse characters and the way the story takes a turn towards the end. Margaret Drabble is a wonderful writer and I love the references to classical literature. I would highly recommend this book.
Dec 26, 2009 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

I have not read Margaret Drabbles 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 authors normal high standards.
The Seven Sisters is not written in chapters but in four parts, which made it a little harder to
Jan 09, 2014 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 typical
Dec 02, 2011 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
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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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