Megan Harlan
September 19, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Witch of Exmoor

type
Book
Current Status
In Season

We gave it an A

In Margaret Drabble’s enchanting 13th novel, The Witch of Exmoor, 60ish English writer Frieda Haxby Palmer shocks her successful, self-involved children with a spate of eccentricity. First Frieda purchases a rickety seaside Victorian castle, where she sequesters herself to write a memoir, and then she disappears altogether, leaving her fortune solely to her adored half-Guyanese grandson. As the rest of the family squabbles, Drabble offers devastating insights into the illusion of security, the perils of self-absorption, and ”family jealousy, that long-ago, ancient, fairytale hatred….” Witch conjures up old-fashioned literary magic. A

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