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Mara And Dann - An Adventure Paperback – 2000
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Question: What do Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear and Doris Lessing's Mara and Dann have in common? Answer: an ice age. Not the same ice age, of course--Auel's series of prehistoric adventures took place 35,000 years ago, during the last global freeze; Lessing's tale, on the other hand, is set several thousand years in the future, during the next one. Nevertheless, both books are concerned with profound shifts in the development of humankind. In Lessing's imagined world, the Northern Hemisphere is completely covered with ice and humanity has retreated south. In a land called Ifrik, young Mara and her even younger brother, Dann, are kidnapped one night from their family home and taken to live among strangers: "The scene that the child, then the girl, then the young woman tried so hard to remember was clear enough in its beginnings. She had been hustled--sometimes carried, sometimes pulled along by the hand--through a dark night, nothing to be seen but stars, and then she was pushed into a room and told, Keep quiet." We soon learn that the children have been stolen for their own good, though it will be some time before we discover why. Growing up in a drought-parched land, Mara and Dann learn at an early age how to survive both the hostile environment and enemy peoples.
Eventually, conditions grow so bad in Ifrik that an entire continent of people begin a great northern migration. As Mara and Dann walk the length of the land, Lessing takes the opportunity to comment on the lost cities and vanished civilizations whose remains dot the landscape. That these ancient ruins belong to our civilization makes Mara's curiosity about them resonate eerily. Danger dogs every step; the children are captured by different, warring groups and their destinies take very different paths. A political novelist first and foremost, Lessing uses her futuristic fable to comment on the sins and foibles of humanity as it is now--on war and slavery, sexism and racism--and on its one saving grace, the ability to love. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Tenderly perceptive, Lessing's first far-future novel since her celebrated Canopus in Argos: Archives series of the late 1970s-mid '80s features two appealing orphans precariously reaching adulthood on Earth thousands of years from now. The Ice Age brought on by the ecological rapaciousness of today's society is receding, bringing lethal drought to the Southern land of "Ifric," where a power struggle in her family has stranded seven-year-old Mara, who is fiercely caring for her even younger brother, Dann, in a remote village of neo-Neanderthals. Even under desperate conditions, Mara's thirst for knowledge outpaces the thirst for water that, over the years, drives her?sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by Dann, who as he grows up insists on following his own dreams?toward the icy North, where remnants of Earth's old technological glories await. She and Dann endure numerous hardships and adventures along the way: Dann becomes addicted to "the poppy" and gambles Mara away on a roll of the dice; Mara works as a spy and is kidnapped to be a "breeder." Lessing spins a glowing hymn to human endurance around the sweet, shrewd, indefatigable Mara, one of her most engaging heroines. Though Lessing sanitizes Voltaire's savage satire of Western civilization here, her innocent-but-canny Mara proves as effective as Candide at surviving the worst and celebrating the best that human beings can do to one another. This novel is a resounding affirmation of humanity and what it holds dearest, from one of our most gifted storytellers.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The future setting is fascinating. It's fun to see our time through the eyes of people walking around in the ruins of our civilization.
Lessing does not hesitate to make her characters suffer - the book is not for the faint of heart - but it's all to good end, and she rescues them very pleasingly when you think they can't take it any more.
Finally, the book (without preaching, except a tiny bit at the very end) has given me a real appreciation of basic necessities like water and food and safety that we take for granted, and what it would be like to do without them. I swear, I am taking shorter showers since reading it!
However, I read it through and enjoyed seeing how the new planet and cultures were described. Interesting read over all.
I would definitely recommend this book, but not to a young adult. I would say this should be an 17 and up read.