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The puzzling life of Margaret Drabble

When you hear that the famous novelist Margaret Drabble has written a book about jigsaws, you decide she must be taking a games break from the serious pursuit of fiction. Not quite; it turns out that the piecing together of cardboard bits has been just as vital as the assembling of half-imagined people and the completion of plots. More than that, this compulsive English pastime has become such a player in the story of her own existence that it has been a life- saver, helping to bring her back from depression and thoughts of self-destruction.

Drabble, who became a bestselling sensation with her debut novel A Summer Birdcage, when she was barely out of university, has been obsessed with puzzles since she was a girl. This new book of hers, The Pattern in the Carpet, describes itself as a personal history with jigsaws.