Pamela Norris

Puzzles & the Past

The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws


Atlantic Books 350pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Following the 1929 stock market crash in America, there was an unexpected boom in the jigsaw-puzzle industry. Companies began giving away puzzles to promote the sale of toothbrushes and other domestic items. Soon, someone had the bright idea of marketing a weekly puzzle. In the doom-ridden days of bankruptcy and unemployment, this diversion from anxiety and boredom was a runaway success. Would a similar idea alleviate the worries of the current financial crisis? As Margaret Drabble explains in The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws, ‘doing jigsaws and writing about them has been one of my strategies to defeat melancholy and avoid laments’. 

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