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The Red Queen


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About the Author

MARGARET DRABBLE is the author of The Sea Lady, The Seven Sisters, The Peppered Moth, and The Needle's Eye, among other novels. For her contributions to contemporary English literature, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2008.


Surprise! Just as she sets out for Korea on a grant from Oxford, Barbara Halliwell receives the passionate memoir of a Korean princess whose life 200 years ago becomes deeply entwined with her own. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

In her 16th novel, Drabble exhibits her characteristic ironic detachment in an elegantly constructed meditation on memory, mortality, risk and reward. Dr. Babs Halliwell, a 40-ish academic on sabbatical at Oxford, receives an anonymous gift on the eve of her departure for a conference in Seoul: a copy of the 18th-century Korean Crown Princess Hyegyong's memoir. In the crown princess's tumultuous time, women of the court could exercise power only through men. But the sly, coquettish and charmingly unreliable princess not only outlived her mad husband but also survived her brothers, her sons and innumerable palace plots. Her story and her spirit all but possess Dr. Halliwell, whose tragic personal losses and highly ritualized professional life cleverly and subtly mirror those of the crown princess. Upon her arrival in Seoul, Dr. Halliwell begins to come a bit unhinged as pieces of her long-submerged past threaten to catch up with her at last. "These things," she observes, "have long, long fuses." She innocently takes up with a generous Korean doctor, who becomes her tour guide in the jarringly foreign city. Soon, she's also flattered into embarking on a brief but intense affair with a famous and charismatic Dutch anthropologist who's busy grappling with ghosts of his own. Nimbly jumping across time and around the globe, Drabble artfully stitches together the disparate strands of both women's lives with "a scarlet thread... of blood and joy." The voices of the dead reach out to the living, where the ancient and the modern "pass through one another, like clouds of bees, like distant galaxies... like the curving spirals of a double helix." Agent, Peter Matson at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct. 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

A deliciously evocative tale of palace of the most inventive works of fiction in recent memory
-- "San Francisco Chronicle" (11/21/2004 12:00:00 AM)
Drabble's plain narrative tenaciousness gives her writing transparency and fire.
-- "Village Voice" (11/3/2004 12:00:00 AM)
Drabble's tale is a love song to literature, an illustration as to how reader and subject become intertwined.
-- "Chicago Tribune" (10/3/2004 12:00:00 AM)
Editor's Choice
-- "Entertainment Weekly" (10/8/2004 12:00:00 AM)

Drabble has written a moving tale of fate, moral responsibility and love.--San Francisco Chronicle Drabble's tale is a quiet love song to literature, an illustration as to how reader and subject become intertwined. As Yeats wrote, how can we know the dancer from the dance?--Chicago Tribune An 18th-century Korean princess tells her harrowing life story in the lyrical first half of Drabble's lovely, intelligent 16th novel. A-. - Entertainment Weekly
With her usual deftness and clarity, Drabble crosses cultures and centuries...engrossing and provocative
-- "Kirkus Reviews" (8/15/2004 12:00:00 AM)

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