Books: Primrose Pathfinder

THE WATERFALL by Margaret Drabble. 290 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $5.95.

The history of the English novel, heroines department, could be summarized as stories of Girls Who Dared To. They swooned, they wept, they rolled their eyes upward, but they dared to. They dared to, and did they ever pay for it, those primrose pathfinders, from Richardson's Clarissa to Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Margaret Drabble is a presumably emancipated young Englishwoman in a presumably emancipated world. But her stories—at 30, she has written five brilliantly uneven novels—return atavistically to the primal theme....

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