There are a few interesting commentaries here about social class, family relationships, and especially the squabbling that goes on over inheritance. BUT in general I thought it was boring, lacking in suspense, and in need of a good editor.
First, there are several points in which Drabble contradicts herself. She describes Nathan as very ugly (pg 3) and then later as an attractive man (pg 17). Certainly we come to discover that he is a bit of a playboy, but how is it that he is simultaneously unattractive yet attractive? Personally, I did not find him compelling (either in physical description or as a character..he was a bit of a whiner). Another point at which Drabble needed editorial help was round about pg 90; she says that they write to Frieda, but then quickly back tracks to wondering if Frieda gets mail and when David and Gogo visit, they have a packet of things to give PRESUMABLY because they have no mailing address for Frieda. A third instance of this is when Frieda's car is referred to on pg 158 as a Saab after having been called a Volvo. Maybe Drabble was trying to make a point about the interchangeability of these high end machines, but I found it to just be sloppy, inconsistent, and distracting stuff for an attentive reader.
The veil of ignorance word game and the whole class consciousness throughout felt just too overdone. Yeah, these are upper middle class Brits who undeservedly have a higher social position than many other people (Will Paine for example), yeah they are educated and intelligent and aware of their undeserved position. But do they really talk about it this much? Do they think about it? Maybe David would (he is a sociologist), maybe Frieda would (she is a radical author), but Gogo and Rosemary, Patsy, Daniel, and Nathan would not ever think about or question their entitled position. Nathan, Freida and Belle end up in "heaven" (beyond the veil of ignorance, but still
contemplating it), which was not only disgusting to my agnostic mind but simplistic and unnecessary. Are we to understand that when Benjie jumps he will join them in the watery-bliss?
As other reviewers have mentioned, I found the narrator annoying. I disliked the 2nd person conversational tone "you might have guessed..." or "now we shall walk through the garden and into the night." Either be a narrator or be omniscient, but please do not condescendingly discuss my opinions with me AS A READER.
On the other hand, there were a few fine points of social commentary: Freida's rejection of modernity certainly is compelling; Drabble's description of the way that Benjie can feel his parent's begin to change their minds as they enter the cave tourist destination (pg 93) rings true both as a parent and (in memory) as a kid; Drabble's note that "greed and selfishness have become respectable. Like family jealousy, they are not new, but they have gained a new sanction. It is now considered correct to covet." is lovely, concise and accurate (in my opinion); Freida's questions on the continuity of one's own character through life is interesting.
Overall there are some fine points, but I think it could have been much better done and would have been much more readable with some editing.