Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This is a qualified recommendation. My book club read this book and my mother and I weren't crazy about it, but everyone else loved it. Doris Lessing wrote this novel instead of a third volume of her memoirs because she felt that would hurt too many vulnerable people, to paraphrase the introduction. The first half is the story of Frances, an actress who made a young marriage to the Britain's most self absorbed Communist, Comrade Johnny. After he leaves her and their two boys she is forced to become a journalist rather than taking acting jobs, move in with Johnny's German born mother, who vaguely disapproves of her, and become a den mother to seemingly dozens of young people (her sons' friends) who are drifting through the 60s. The second half concerns Sylvia, the daughter of Johnny's second wife with her previously husband (got that?) Sylvia morphs from a miserable child to a doctor in AIDS ravaged Africa. Our book group felt comparing that the attitudes towards family were interesting conversation starter.