The Realms of Gold

The Realms of Gold is a 1975 novel by British novelist Margaret Drabble. The novel explores the mid-life experiences of anthropologist Frances Wingate and her affair with Karel Schmidt.[1]


Drabble describes the initial inspiration for the novel in an interview in The Paris Review:[2]

I was trying to think of something really amusing and cheerful and I thought of the octopus I saw in the museum at Naples. I can't remember what I was doing in this maritime museum. I can't remember who took me. But suddenly there it was, a lot of imagery of nature: the natural world of species, the flora and fauna, the fact that Frances's father studied newts. It all just seemed to fit very nicely.


The novel is primarily a reflection on Wingate's life, but critic Broyard, describes the novels best features are "Brilliant little essays" about life and life issues.[1]

Critical reception

Reception of the novel was mixed. New York Times reviewer Anatole Broyard described the novel as "drenched with intelligence, that is not enough to make it work."[1] Broyard compared Drabble's poor work to the poor subsequent novels by Edna O'Brien and Gail Godwin.[1] Kirkus review was much more positive about the novel, calling it "a conspicuous pleasure to read--a cheerful reconciliation of the exactions of the past and the possibilities that lie just ahead."[3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Broyard, Anatole (October 31, 1975). "Book of Times". The New York Times Books.
  2. 1 2 Milton, Barbara (1978-01-01). "Margaret Drabble, The Art of Fiction No. 70". Paris Review (74). ISSN 0031-2037. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  3. "THE REALMS OF GOLD by Margaret Drabble". Kirkus Reviews. November 1, 1975. Retrieved 2016-03-17.

Further reading

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