Book summary: The Peppered Moth

2001 BY MARGARET DRABBLE

In the early 1900s, Bessie Bawtry, a small child with big notions, lives in a South Yorkshire mining town in England. Precocious and refined in a land of little ambition and much mining grime, Bessie waits for the day she can escape the bleak, coarse existence her ancestors had seldom questioned.

Nearly a century later Bessie's granddaughter, Faro Gaulden, is listening to a lecture on genetic inheritance. She has returned to the depressed little town in which Bessie grew up and wonders at the families who never left. Confronted with what would have been her life had her grandmother stayed, she finds herself faced with difficult questions. Is she really so different from the South Yorkshire locals? As she soon learns, the past has a way of reasserting itself-not unlike the peppered moth that was once thought to be nearing extinction but is now enjoying a sudden unexplained resurgence.

The Peppered Moth is a brilliant novel, full of irony, sadness, and humor.

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