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The fifth child, Dorris Lessing

(13 Posts)
mrmump Wed 01-Jun-11 22:13:26

I cant believe I have only just read this. Finished it in a day, cant stop thinking about it, especially with todays medical knowledge and what we know about autism. Just wanted to say wow!

OyOfMidWorld Wed 08-Jun-11 13:28:28

I read this when I was around 12 or 13, a friend gave it to me (it must have just been published then) and it remains one of my favourite books. There is a sequel called Ben in the World which follows Ben after he leaves his family that is a good read too although not as good as The Fifth Child.

montmartre Wed 08-Jun-11 13:34:53

I really liked this when I read it, but I haven't read it since I had children... maybe time for a re-read.

sfxmum Wed 08-Jun-11 13:36:48

I read this in my late teens and was astonished by its power, one of those books I should like to re read in my 40s

Threadworm8 Wed 08-Jun-11 13:41:09

I disliked it. When I read Lessing the word that comes into my mind above all others is resentment. Not an unreasonable resenment, since she was a feminist in a society far more oppressive and constraining of women in general and mothers in particular than even ours today, but still a narrowing, hardening resentment. And in The Fifth Child I felt she projected her frustrations onto an entity created for the purpose, so that the boy has very little essence of his own.

FAR prefer We Need to Talk About Kevin as an examination of similar themes.

fuzzpigFriday Wed 08-Jun-11 13:43:38

I've never heard of this, can someone give me the gist please? Might get the first chapter for the kindle and add it to the massive list of other first chapters I want to read


sfxmum Wed 08-Jun-11 13:47:56

I did not read it as a mother, in fact motherhood could not be farther from my mind, it just opened my eyes to feelings I had not considered and in a way named behaviours I could see around me
quite powerful

Threadworm8 Wed 08-Jun-11 13:50:01

Couple, greedy for a gently liberal-leftie lentil lifestyle, get lovely house, have four children, parent warmly and perfectly amisdt the lentils, but want too much of a good thing, have a fifth child, and he is Not Right. The idea of disability is envoked, but it does seem that she doesn't really care enough about the child character, or about research, to make a pluasible picture of any particular disability, and at the end of the book throws out some theory that he is a kind of 'throwback' to an earlier kind of barbaric human. She also makes a bit of social comment to the effect that all the louts on Thatcher's streets might be similarly regarded.

Others in the family 'want rid' and don't care much about how -- there is the prospect of a gothically awful 'care' home for him. Maternal love -- or rather duty and imprisonment -- prevents her from discarding him. So she is stuck, and the ideal family is ruined.

No effort on Lessings' part to look critically at the antipathy in her that produced such a demon, unlike in WNTTAK, which is little else.

sfxmum Wed 08-Jun-11 14:16:28

grin I like the summary LOL

montmartre Wed 08-Jun-11 14:49:15

Ah Threadie- could you perhaps write summaries for all works of literature (I believe you have read a great many wink)- it would save me years of reading! grin

Threadworm8 Wed 08-Jun-11 16:58:21

grin Shall we share out the task between us?

fuzzpigFriday Wed 08-Jun-11 17:39:09

Thanks for the summary I will give it a go but bear the apart lack of research in mind.

You should write literature study guides, GCSE students would love them grin

fuzzpigFriday Wed 08-Jun-11 17:39:59

Apart?!? Apparent, I meant. I don't think I will be writing study guides anytime soon hmm

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