The Pumpkin Eater
‘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.
The themes in this short novel are timeless. There are lessons here for us all * The 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 * 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 * A seriously good writer * Telegraph * 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 * Mortimer's style, spare and singular, cuts through the decades like a scalpel ... Will Penguin's new edition of The Pumpkin Eater encourage people to look again at Mortimer? I hope so. She is so good. I can't think of a writer more attentive to emotional weather -- Rachel Cooke * The Observer * 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 Beautiful ... almost every woman I can think of will want to read this book -- Edna O'Brien
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