Margaret Drabble The Radiant Way. Knopf, 432 pages, $18.95

Margaret Drabble has been writing novels for about twenty-five years, and she has produced enough work to prove beyond doubt that she is a smart and talented writer. This said, it must be acknowledged that her novels, read together, are rather a tedious lot. Her protagonists practice different professions, are of different ages and temperaments, respond differently to their circumstances. But her novels suffer from a constraining sameness which keeps Drabble as a writer wandering around the same circle, treading the same ground. The fact has been clear and becomes clearer with the publication of her newest effort, The Radiant Way: Margaret Drabble stays where she is as a novelist because she has no place else to go.

The Radiant Way shares with Drabble's other fiction a central ambivalence toward her London world: on one hand, she...

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