Book Beginnings: A Summer Bird-Cage by Margaret Drabble

Last Friday I quoted the opening sentences of Life Support by Tess Gerritsen, which was going to be the next book I read. I did read on for a couple of chapters but had to stop as I was just not in the mood for reading a medical thriller set in a hospital – too close to the bone! I fancied reading something less disturbing, so I took A Summer Bird-Cage by Margaret Drabble down from the bookcase and began to read that:

I had to come home for my sister’s wedding. Home is a house in Warwickshire, and where I was coming from was Paris. I was keen on Paris, but will refrain from launching into a description of the Seine. I would if I could, but I can’t. (page 7)

A Summer Bird-Cage was Margaret Drabble’s first novel. It was first published in 1963 and is set at the in the early 1960s, about the lives of two sisters – Sarah, the narrator who has just graduated from Oxford University and is wondering what to do with her life, and her beautiful sister Louise who at the start of the book is about to marry, Stephen, a rich novelist. From what I’ve read so far, neither of them seem happy and there is definitely tension between them.

Interesting I think, and I’m wondering if it maybe a bit autobiographical – Margaret Drabble is the younger sister of A S Byatt. Maybe this sentence was personal, comparing the two sisters, when Sarah says – ‘As far as tags go she is grande dame where I am jeune fille, and she leads all her life to match it.’ Or maybe I’m reading too much into that.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Katy at A Few MorePages.

10 thoughts on “Book Beginnings: A Summer Bird-Cage by Margaret Drabble

  1. Glad you mentioned the fact that Drabble is the sister of A.S. Byatt. I knew she had a famous sister. I couldn’t think of the other sister’s name. Don’t blame you about the Medical thriller. I just had a hospital visit. Definitely not in the mood for….


  2. I have enjoyed several novels by Margaret Drabble…I have probably read this one; back in the day, I grabbed lots of books by Drabble, Atwood, Lessing, etc. I may have to reread it, though.

    I love books about sisters and any kind of family issue. Thanks for sharing.


  3. I’ve never read anything by Margaret Drabble – I certainly had no idea she was A.S. Byatt’s sister) so I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on the book.

    I know what you mean about not being in the right mood for certain settings… medical would not be any good for me at the moment either. I’m going for ecclesiastic at the moment, oddly enough.


  4. When I first read A Summer Birdcage I had no idea that Drabble had an older sister, or that there were tensions between them – now that they’ve spent years squabbling, albeit rather decorously, in public, hindsight ought to make it a rather interesting read, I should think!


  5. Gosh, I was just writing about Margaret Drabble this week – a short story from the new collection – and I found myself wanting to go back and read the books I so loved when they first came out. I’ve ordered this one.


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