Running along the same lines as a daytime soap opera, Margaret Drabble?s A Natural Curiosity provides pertinent information about life in Northam, England, a small, quaint town just outside of London, during the mid to late 1900?s. Drabble narrates the novel in third person omniscient which allows her to venture into the minds of the diverse characters. Although there exists a black and white central conflict, all of the minor conflicts stem from Alix Bowen, the first, and most essential individual.
In one way or another, all of the people share some distinct connection with Alix Bowen. Drabble?s description of Alix Bowen?s obsession with a murderer named Paul Whitmore who had held her hostage in the past, allows the reader identify with Alix?s innocence. A good-hearted, well-minded person, Alix Bowen feels compelled to discover how a man of Whitmore?s intelligence could possibly commit the horrible crimes that he did. Drabble also forces the reader to sympathize with Alix Bowen, and to understand her obsession. In showing her unconditional dedication to Whitmore, Alix sets off to locate the father of the murderer. The reason this infatuation continues relies solely on the fact that Whitmore offers Alix an ?intellectual and psychological stimulus of an unusually invigorating nature.?
The chain effect remains evident as individual dilemmas that arise between members of a social group ultimately affect the group as a whole, underlying the theme of the novel. Throughout the novel, when two or more people disagreed on an issue, a third party swiftly enters the picture offering either hurt or help to the issue. In one instance, Carla Davis, a deceitful woman, lays the blame of her husband?s supposed hostage situation in Baldai on Charles Headleand, a thoughtful, caring, gentleman. On another occasion, Liz Headleand begins to act odd when she discovers that her long-time friend, Alix Bowen, repeatedly visits the murderer.
Undoubtedly, Margaret Drabble?s strengths far outweigh her weaknesses in A Natural Curiosity. Drabble?s tremendous usage of descriptive adjectives truly brings her characters to life. In addition, the author?s serious, yet sometimes sarcastic tones really add to the lively effect of the novel. Drabble shows no fear in coming right out and stating her points, and this indicates the sophistication of her style. Symbolism, the most important strength in Drabble?s novel, allows the reader to enter the minds of the characters for themselves without having Drabble do it for the reader. For example, when describing people, the author gives the deceiving characters the dark, evil shades of color, whereas when describing a naive person she uses lighter colors. The lone weakness that stands out in this novel consists of the occasional unnecessary rambling on about certain characters. As Drabble forbids the reader to ever forget about the novel, ?Life sets us unfair puzzles….Puzzles with pieces missing.?A Book Review of
A Natural Curiosity
Margaret DrabbleRobert Brown