Inspiration, Thoughts & Opinions, Writing
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The Pumpkin Eater

I just finished reading ‘The Pumpkin Eater’ by Penelope Mortimer. The book holds up well more than fifty years later. She was a fascinating person, too.

Here are some of my favourite passages from the novel:


“I have arguments with myself.”

“About what?”

“Between the part of me that believes in things, and the part that doesn’t.”

“And which wins?”

“Sometimes one, sometimes the other.”




So we were back at the beginning again. There was no end. You learn nothing by hurting others; you only learn by being hurt. Where I had been viable, ignorant, rash and loving I was now an accomplished bitch, creating an emptiness in which my own emptiness might survive. We should have been locked up while it lasted, or allowed to kill each other physically. But if the choice had been given, it would not have been each other we would have killed, it would have been ourselves.




I seemed to be alone in the world. My past, at last, was over. I had given it up; set it free; sent it back to where it belonged, to fit into other people’s lives. For one’s past grows to a point where it is longer than one’s future , and then it can become too great a burden. I had found, or created, a neutrality between the past that I had lost and the future that I feared: an interminable hour which passed under my feet like the shadow of moving stairs, each stair recurring again and again, flattening to meet the next, a perfect circle of isolation captive between yesterday and tomorrow, between to illusions. Yesterday had never been. Tomorrow would never come.


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