The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Mr Boothby’s caring and naïve but closed-minded wife. She does most of the work maintaining the Mashopi Hotel and initially develops a close relationship to the socialists before retaliating against them for their kindness toward her black cook, Jackson. The socialists, especially Willi Rodde and Paul Blackenhurst, enjoy berating, mocking, and embarrassing her before winning back her sympathies by feigning kindness. She repeatedly kicks Paul and Anna out of the kitchen when she finds them talking to Jackson and is disgusted by Jimmy’s love for Paul; when she finds Jimmy drunkenly kissing Jackson, she fires her cook after 15 years. She represents the prototypical British settler in Africa, who is not wealthy or educated by European standards but ends up enforcing a regime of racial terror and exploitation in an attempt to advance her own economic condition.
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Mrs Boothby Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs Boothby appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 1
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...managed to further alienate Ted, who is already frustrated with him. The “full-bodied” and polite Mrs Boothby brings them to dinner; they eat hearty “English pub food, cooked with care.” Willi and... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...daughter June, whose sexual frustration is apparent to the women but invisible to the men—to Mrs Boothby ’s relief, June soon meets someone. Just as he had once shocked and subdued Maryrose’s... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...stride into the kitchen, where Paul Blackenhurst asks the cook about his family life, to Mrs Boothby ’s disdain—she kicks them out. Anna feels a momentary attraction to Paul, who calls her... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
On this last weekend, Mrs Boothby kicks Anna and Paul Blackenhurst out of the kitchen (being there is “against the rules”),... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...and of course Paul starts chatting with Jackson, which leads to an explosive argument with Mrs Boothby —June storms out, and Paul and Anna calmly leave for the big room. Anna wonders... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...still loves, and Jackson is none the wiser about the son who is not his. Mrs Boothby walks outside and yells at Jackson, who goes home. The dancing resumes, and that night... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Everything is tense in the hotel the next day: everyone gives Mrs Boothby the cold shoulder, and she goes to take a nap, only to watch Stanley visit... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...the first time, looking at “Jimmy lying asleep or drunk or both on the floor.” Mrs Boothby walks in right as Jackson lifts Jimmy up and Jimmy throws his arms around Jackson’s... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...Hounslow is solemn, and Jackson has already disappeared with his family, leaving his chickens behind. Mrs Boothby apologizes to Jimmy, who has no recollection of the night before, but she has no... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...that it reminds her of a story from Africa, one weekend at the Mashopi Hotel. Mrs Boothby brings a .22 rifle to breakfast, asking if anyone can shoot—which Paul Blackenhurst can—because Mr... (full context)
The Golden Notebook
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...is nearly her own style. June does not help her mother with dinner and thinks Mrs Boothby must know what she feels. Then, “he” gets out of a lorry, and June stands... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...the same films, which now seem “realistic,” crude, with a new attention to details, like Mrs Boothby ’s curves and sweat, Willi’s humming, Mr Boothby’s “envious, but un-bitter” gaze at the man... (full context)