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The latest by the prolific Lessing is a collection of four novellas that vary considerably in quality, with the best of them, "Victoria and the Staveneys" and "A Love Child," showing her at the top of her very impressive form. They are both at once intimately detailed yet infinitely expansive in their suggestions of a lost world only recoverable by a profoundly observant writer. In "Victoria" a young London black woman of charm and great fortitude survives and transcends the hardest of all assimilations: acceptance by a free-thinking, liberal white family. The shades of racial and social subtext here are evoked with a sure hand that even a Zadie Smith could envy. "A Love Child" powerfully evokes a strange aspect of a familiar time: a terrible ocean voyage, during WWII, by a hapless British regiment sent to the Far East to help protect India against Japanese invasion. James Reid, a young conscript, puts ashore in South Africa in the course of this nightmare voyage and embarks on a liaison that transforms the rest of his life. The detail and almost hallucinatory power with which an era and an ethos are recaptured are Lessing at her best, comparable to Ian McEwan's amazing war scenes in Atonement. The other stories are on a much lower level. The title story is about an odd relationship between two older women and each other's young sons; it is an original idea, but curiously lame in the telling. And "The Reason for It" is one of those peculiar tales in the SF/fantasy genre that Lessing does well enough, but that never seem to be quite her mtier. Still, the two prize pieces here are well worth the price.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The subtitle of this collection of stories—"Four Short Novels"—announces their ambition: each unfolds over decades, tracking with dispassionate precision how youthful notions come to define, and even defeat, a life. Two women seal their friendship by seducing each other's teen-age son; an aged counsellor recounts the decay of a mysterious ancient civilization ruled by a handsome but foolish despot; an impoverished black girl bears the child of a middle-class white boy, and is welcomed by his self-consciously liberal family. Lessing's scathing intelligence ranges widely, but her tales tend to wobble under the weight of her ideas. She is at her best in the final story, which extends from England to the outposts of empire in South Africa and India during the Second World War. A British soldier has a brief affair with an officer's wife, and in later years becomes obsessed with the idea that he might have fathered a son, a possibility that appears to him as the key to the life he should have led.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The best book I have read in a couple of years. Wonderful, wonderful stories--extraordinarily thoughtful, sensitive, genuine and brilliantly written. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Laurie
This was a shocking book to read. The plot was not run of the mill though quite believable. Her characters, especially the women, are very strong, though the boys hold their own.Published 9 months ago by Alex Canton-Dutari
Four stories...some more engaging than others but I didn't want it to end. Maybe not Lessing at her best, but her complex characters are always compelling to me.Published 10 months ago by pam
Probably my favorite book I've read all year. Thought-provoking and engaging!Published 11 months ago by AISLINN
I found the first story a little hard to believe and rather bizarre. I really enjoyed the others. Ms Lessing really draws me into the story. I am not sure what will happen. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Alice Morrissey
I loved these stories. The reader had no idea of where the story was going until it went. Doris Lessing had an amazingly creative mind.Published 14 months ago by Barbara
Doris Lessing is a gifted and subversive writer. Don't miss the movie version of The Grandmothers called "Adore," with Robin Wright. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Kindle Customer
I really enjoy the writings of Doris Lessing. I read Adore and loved it so much that I wanted more, the Grandmothers was an extension of the book Adore, I really liked it but wish... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jeanie Fifer