Margaret Drabble has been talking about her latest book The Pure Gold Baby at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and about why she changed her mind about writing fiction (she said she’d finished with it.)
The 75-year-old writer, one of Britain’s most distinguished literary figures, spent five years working on it, saying her 18th novel was a difficult book to write because it was based on a family she knew.
The book explores mental health issues, a subject Drabble has an interest in, adding: “I think we all do, we all know people on various parts of the spectrum.”
The novel begins in the 1960s when Jess, an anthropologist living in north London gives birth to her daughter, Anna who is a child of ‘special, unknowable qualities’. She is happy, always willing to smile at the world around her, but she also presents profound challenges. For her mother Jess, still in her early 20s, her arrival will prove life-transforming.
Over the course of decades, in ways large and small, Anna will affect the lives and loves of those around her. While Anna herself will remain largely unaltered by the passing years, she will live through a period of dramatic change, her journey illuminating our shifting attitudes towards motherhood, responsibility and the way we care for one another