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The Pumpkin Eater

Author(s): Penelope Mortimer

World fiction

'Peter, Peter, Pumpkin eater Had a wife and couldn't keep her...' In this extraordinary, semi-autobiographical novel, Penelope Mortimer depicts a married woman's breakdown in 1960s London. With three husbands in her past, one in her present and a numberless army of children, Mrs Armitage is astonished to find herself collapsing one day in Harrods. Strange, unsettling and shot through with black comedy, this is a moving account of one woman's realisation that marriage and family life may not, after all, offer all the answers to the problems of living.


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Beautiful ... almost every woman I can think of will want to read this book -- Edna O'Brien A strange, fresh, gripping book. One of the the many achievements of The Pumpkin Eater is that it somehow manages to find universal truths in what was hardly an archetypal situation: Mortimer peels several layers of skin off the subjects of motherhood, marriage, and monogamy, so that what we're asked to look at is frequently red-raw and painful without being remotely self-dramatizing. In fact, there's a dreaminess to some of the prose that is particularly impressive, considering the tumult that the book describes -- Nick Hornby One of those novels which seem to be written with real knowledge of the brink of the abyss, taut almost beyond endurance The Sunday Times A seriously good writer Telegraph A subtle, fascinating, unhackneyed novel... in touch with human realities and frailties, unsentimental and amused... So moving, so funny, so desperate, so alive... [A] fine book, and one to be greatly enjoyed The New York Times In this, her best book, Mortimer employs a steely, sceptical firm-eyed prose, which pays readers the compliment of regarding them almost as collaborators Guardian The themes in this short novel are timeless. There are lessons here for us all The Times

Penelope Mortimer was born in 1918 in Rhyl. At nineteen, she married a Reuters correspondent and had two daughters with him, as well as two more from other relationships. Her first novel, Johanna, was published in 1947. She re-married two years later, to John Mortimer, the barrister and author of the Rumpole novels; they had two children together and later divorced. Mortimer wrote many books, including The Pumpkin Eater (1962), which was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter and made into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch. Penelope Mortimer died in 1999.

General Fields

  • : 9780241240106
  • : Penguin Books Ltd
  • : Penguin Classics
  • : 0.128
  • : July 2015
  • : 199mm X 132mm X 11mm
  • : September 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Penelope Mortimer
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 823.914
  • : 160