Margaret Drabble's second novel is, happily and surprisingly, stronger than her first (A Summer Bird-Cage-1964, p. 254) which earned her, justifiably, a comparison with Muriel Spark as a young writer of discernible talent and sharp intelligence. The Garrick Year, which can only be faulted in that it is perhaps of greater competence than consequence, is an unsparing first person account of Emma's unwilling remove from London to Hereford for a theatre festival in which her husband will act. Emma, after three years of marriage and maternity (an infant and a toddler) has hoped to resume some sort of career for herself, resenting, as she does, the tender trap of ""passion choked by domesticity."" Hereford, grass, cows, and a general disaffection with David who is both preoccupied and cross, leave her with nothing except time and tedium. ""Condemned to familiarity,"" she engages in a halfhearted affair with a producer, realizing that she is just about as unyielding with him as she is with David, until the end with brings on some chastened concessions from all concerned. All of this is much too true to be good and it provides a very knowing, diverting entertainment.