Short summary - The Garrick Year - Margaret Drabble

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Garrick Year
Margaret Drabble

The novel takes place in England in the early sixties. The heroine of the novel, Emma Evans, on behalf of whom the story is being narrated, recalls the events that happened to her several months earlier.

Emma's husband David is an actor. He is shot mainly on television, but once the famous theater director Wyndham Ferrer invites him to take part in the theater festival, which he organizes in the small provincial town of Hereford, where a new theater opens. The work is interesting - he is offered several main roles, but Emma does not want to leave London even for six months.


Emma and David met four years ago. Emma was a fairly well-known fashion model and model. Once she accidentally saw David at a television studio, and a week later they suddenly found themselves in the same compartment of the train. There they met, they had a stormy romance, and a few months later they got married. According to Emma herself, "they got married hastily, but repented slowly." Daughter Flora was born, Emma spent most of her time at home, they went, as they say, "everyday life that extinguished passion." When Flora was about two years old, Joe was born.

Joe is now seven months old, Emma is sitting at home, though she has an au pair, a young Frenchwoman Pascal, but Emma is breastfeeding Joe and is still attached to the house. Her name is to work on television - to read the news and to broadcast programs, and Emma would be glad to agree, but then Wyndham Ferrer appears with his proposal.


During one of the quarrels, David punches the wall, Emma's favorite wallpaper is torn, the wall is cracking. Perhaps Evans' married life is also bursting at the seams?

True, having gone to Hereford, Emma is delighted with this small town, by the way, the homeland of many famous English actors - Garrick, Kemble, Sarah Siddons, Nell Gwyn (the name of the novel - «The Garrick Year» - can be translated as «Year of Garrick» ) Returning to London, Emma contacts real estate agencies and soon finds an old house, on the ground floor of which there used to be a stable, and now a garage, and rents it for her family. Emma generally hates everything standard - clothes, housing, furniture. She dresses extravagantly, buys some inconceivable hats and dresses on the ruins, loves Victorian furniture and trinkets. And at home she also loves unusual ones. Therefore, having moved to Hereford, Emma is horrified that the landlord furnished the house with modern faceless furniture.

Almost immediately after arrival, Emma and David go to a reception hosted by the municipality in honor of the touring troupe. There she meets with actors who will work with David, the pretty but dumb Sophie Brent, the prima Natalie Winter and others. At the reception, she sees a couple of respectable bourgeois Scott, with whose daughter Mary, she once studied at school. And after the reception, several actors gather in the house of David and Emma, but Emma is not too interested in their eternal talk about the theater.

Emma’s life at Hereford is gradually getting into an established rut. In the morning - shops, then a walk with the children, during the day she sometimes goes to the cafe with the actors, in the evening she either goes to the theater or spends time watching TV. David rehearses a lot - he is busy in two plays: with Ferrer he plays in The White Devil, with another director, Celine, he plays in Secret Marriage. Once in the foyer of the theater, Emma notices Ferrer and draws attention to her. On the day of the White Devil’s dress rehearsal, Emma arrives at the theater, the rehearsal is delayed, and already late at night, when the lights suddenly go out in the theater, Emma, who is about to go home, encounters Ferrer in the dark hallway, who makes an appointment for her.

Her strange affair with Ferrer begins. They meet almost every week, go to dinner in a small restaurant in Wales, and walk around Hereford. They are probably in love with each other, but Emma does not want to become his mistress. Either understands that for Ferrer she is just another hobby, or does not want to betray David. Once, after returning home after a meeting with Ferrer, Emma feels that the apartment smells of gas, and, running into the kitchen, sees that the gas tap is open. Fortunately, nothing terrible happens, but Emma thinks about what could happen if she lingered for another couple of hours.

Once Ferrer, referring to the fact that he is sick, calls Emma to his home. And Emma fries his fried eggs with bacon, having seen a sink littered with plates, washes dishes, and when Ferrer tries to hug her, he ironically asks if he was going to ask her to sew a detached button on him.

But their strange relationship still continues. Emma understands that they will not lead to anything serious, but still does not tear them.

One evening after the next premiere, Ferrer escorts her home, and on the first floor of the Evans' house they accidentally discover passionately kissing Sophie Brent and David. David and Emma are silent about this incident, but Emma understands that David and Sophie have a romance, and, apparently, is not at all platonic. The next morning, David just as silently leaves, and Emma thinks that sometimes the couple live, practically not communicating all their lives. Can it be that all conflicts are due to the fact that the mechanism of communication is blurred between people, because they have nothing to say to each other?


But Ferrer still wants to find out a relationship with Emma. In the afternoon, he meets her and the children walking in the park, and begins to accuse Emma of being too busy with her children, does not pay attention to either David or him, ferrer, And then Emma is horrified to see Flora playing at the pond slips and falls into the water. Emma rushes after her daughter and pulls her ashore. Wyndham takes Emma soaked to the skin with Flora and Joseph home. For several days, Flora recalls with horror what happened to her, she is afraid of water. And Emma just gets a bad cold. A few days later, seeing that Emma could not recover, the doctor advised David to take the children out on a picnic to give Emma a complete rest. When the family leaves, Wyndham visits Emma. He comes in and visits Emma, and says goodbye before leaving for London. But how can a wounded man calm down that the woman whom he had been courting for so many months never became his mistress? Emma surrenders to him, but realizes that their relationship can no longer be changed. She does not love him, although perhaps she could have developed a different life. When leaving, Wyndham asks to see him off. Emma goes down and Wyndham’s car bumps into her when she leaves the garage.

Emma's legs are badly dented, and she has to lie in bed until the end of summer. One day she receives a letter from Wyndham, in which he talks about his new plans. The letter comes across «charming grammatical flaws». «Poor Wyndham,» Emma thinks, «it’s a cool trickster: everything in him seems to be of the first grade, but there is no real quality.»

The recovering Emma reads a lot. She «roars, cries with real tears» over Wordsward's poems - there is so much undiluted truth in them. And Yuma reads and reflects on his phrase: «A man and a woman should enter into an alliance for the sake of educating the young generation, and such an alliance should be quite long-term.»