The young author of The Waterfall has already been marked, on both sides of the Atlantic,
as one of the most striking and gifted of the new generation of English novelists. "If you
have a list," wrote The New York Times, "and on it appear such names as Elizabeth
Brown and Muriel Spark, add to it the name of Margaret Drabble." She has been described as
"a lady of awesome talent" (Wall Street Journal) who writes "a viciously telling prose"
(The London Observer) with "extraordinary art" (The New York Times).
Her new novel brilliantly confirms these estimates. "It is certainly, "says the Sunday Times
of London, "her most ambitious and probably her best novel." The New Statesman (quoted further
on the back of the jacket) calls is "brilliant."
The Waterfall is a strong modern expression of the concept of body and soul - an exploration
of the physicality that engulfs human life. Its protagonist is a desireable, cerebral woman who is
frightened of sexuality, terrified of "the violence of our own bodies, as unwilled, as foreordained
as the sliding of mountains, the uprooting of trees" - even as she fights to throw off the
shackles of her supremely phony life-hating middle-class background.
Her marriage is the perfect - disastrous - answer to her neurotic needs: her husband is
"intellectually liberated"; he comes from a lower-class family ("the difference in class
went down well; my parents enjoyed condescension") and he is sexually undemanding. When he
walks out on her - as she is in childbirth - she has a frantic affair with her cousin's
sexy, car-racing husband.
But did her husband really desert her, or did she push him out? Is her passion for her lover
real, or has she stolen him from her dearest friend for nothing? The technique of this
novel is to alternate chapters of rationalization with chapters of harsh truth-seeking - giving
a double force to Miss Drabble's intense evocation of love, shame, rage, sexuality,
intellectuality, and, above all, the relentless waterfall of physicality that is life.