The Realms of Gold is Drabble’s most optimistic novel and the one in which she seems most relaxed as a writer. Her central figure, Frances Wingate, is about forty years old, a respected professional in the field of archaeology. Years before, she had correctly predicted the location of the ruins of an ancient trading center in the Sahara Desert and had led in its excavation, and consequently she has enjoyed a highly satisfying career. Her marriage to a wealthy man did not turn out well, but her children have become independent, and she is able to leave them for extended periods while she attends professional conferences and other meetings important to her.
The problem in Wingate’s life is her broken relationship with Karel Schmidt, a lecturer at a small university, who had been her lover. Separated from him, Frances realizes that she had broken off their relationship for frivolous and foolish reasons. Her life, she believed when she made the break, had become too regular, too contented, and she needed change. The change that she manufactured has separated her from the only man she has loved, and she wants nothing more than to get him back. Very early in the novel, she sends him a postcard from an unnamed Mediterranean city, announcing that she misses him and loves him. She assumes that this will lead to a reconciliation, but when she does not hear from him she swallows her disappointment and determines to go on with her life. Because of a postal strike, the card does not reach...
(The entire section is 613 words.)