The Gates of Ivory

The Gates of Ivory

3.79 (271 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In this sequel to The Radiant Way and A Natural Curiosity, the author extends her viewpoint to embrace the suffering of Cambodia and the moral nightmare of uncounted deaths. One day Liz receives a parcel from Cambodia which contains, together with a finger bone, scraps of writing by her friend.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 112 x 174 x 36mm | 258.55g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140166033
  • 9780140166033

Review quote

"Read this book....A tour de force...For those of us who believe fiction can offer a reality and truth beyond that of non-fiction, this novel is not to be missed."-"Calgary Herald "Artfully constructed and at times mordantly funny."-"Vanity Fair "Piquant characterization, wonderful dialogue and brainy, skillful writing...."-"Globe and Mail "Unputdownable....A sojourn within "The Gates of Ivory is not something one soon forgets.""Edmonton Journal "Irresistible, thought-provoking....Compelling."-Saskatoon "StarPhoenixshow more

Review Text

So comfortable has Drabble become with the baggy formula for her our-gang novels (The Radiant Way, Natural Curiosity) that here she even appends a bibliography, a list of actual books that her character, as well as their creator, might have read to negotiate the present work's concerns. Liz Headland, the London psychiatrist of the earlier two novels, has received in the mail a package from the Far East. It's from Stephen Cox, the novelist - and apart from jottings and stray drafts, it contains a human finger bone. Cox, intrigued by the fanaticism of the Khmer Rouge, has made his way to Thailand, then Vietnam, and hopes to go further into Pol Pot's former heart of darkness. Back in London, Liz sifts through the fragments hoping to find a weave - and when she doesn't, she feels she must herself find Cox, from whom no one's beard anything for a long time. Her search dovetails through near-disaster (toxic-shock syndrome in a Bangkok hotel) with what she discovers has been Stephen's demise by illness deep in the Cambodian jungle. Drabble, ever the schematicist, jumps blithely from Liz's London overcivilization to Stephen's dread-filled voyage into primitive evil, scattering contrasts as she goes. Paradoxically, what saves the book from the triviality of its predecessors is this moving-finger-of-fate approach. Here, it mostly works. Attitudes are overarched by pity and terror; individual lives seem movingly fragile against the forces of chaos. Still, Drabble's global, sampling manner is frustrating. In sections about the Far East here, she writes as a novelist - particular, definitive, surprising. Most everywhere else, she is at the lower flame of the journalist/litterateur, telling us what we know already. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

271 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 23% (62)
4 41% (112)
3 30% (81)
2 4% (12)
1 1% (4)
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