A classic tale from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, of a family torn apart by the arrival of Ben, their feral fifth child. 'Listening to the laughter, the sounds of children playing, Harriet and David would reach for each other's hand, and smile, and breathe happiness.' Four children, a beautiful old house, the love of ...
A classic tale from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, of a family torn apart by the arrival of Ben, their feral fifth child. 'Listening to the laughter, the sounds of children playing, Harriet and David would reach for each other's hand, and smile, and breathe happiness.' Four children, a beautiful old house, the love of relatives and friends - Harriet and David Lovatt's life is a glorious hymn to domestic bliss and old-fashioned family values. But when their fifth child is born, a sickly and implacable shadow is cast over this tender idyll. Large and ugly, violent and uncontrollable, the infant Ben, 'full of cold dislike', tears at Harriet's breast. Struggling to care for her new-born child, faced with a darkness and a strange defiance she has never known before, Harriet is deeply afraid of what, exactly, she has brought into the world ...
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This was a book about society; its impact on a family; and how one difficult child can change the dynamics not only within the birth family, but the extended family as well. It was an excellent book, which I could hardly put down. It was a very personal book because it explored the feelings and thoughts of every character without lapsing into cliches. This is one of my favorite Lessing books!
Publishers Weekly, 1989-03-24 A smug, conservative couple's fifth child (after four model children) inspires fear and horror. ``The implications of this slim, gripping work are ominous,'' wrote PW. Lessing indicts those in authority who refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the violence inherent in mankind. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1988-01-29 Lessing's latest novel is profoundly disquieting, not only for the story it tells but also for the message it conveys. Harriet and David, both conservative, old-fashioned and out of step with the liberated '60s, meet in London and know immediately that they are meant to marry. They buy a white elephant of a house in the suburbs and begin to fill its many bedrooms with children. Smugly determined to create a happy family, they unashamedly sponge off David's father and exploit Harriet's mother as an unpaid nanny. The first four children are adorable, but when Harriet becomes pregnant for the fifth time, she realizes that this baby is different. Painfully active in the womb, newborn Ben seems more like a monster than child; Harriet thinks he is a throwback to humanity's primitive forebears. Howling and raging, enormously strong, Ben inspires fear and horror. After he strangles two pets and menaces his siblings, David sends him away to an institution. Harriet is compelled to bring him home, but his presence irrevocably destroys family harmony. Ben eventually finds his niche with a group of dropouts who become thugs, thieves and muggers. There this horror story ends, and we are left with Lessing's indictment of those in authority who refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the violence inherent in mankind. More disquieting, in equating Ben with the lower and, she intimates, uncivilized strata of society, Lessing seems to assert a message of upper-class superiority. The implications of this slim, gripping work are ominous. 30,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (March) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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