Doris Lessing tackles the 1960s and their legacy head-on in one of her most involving, most personal and most political novels.
It’s the morning of the Sixties and it’s suppertime at Freedom Hall, the most welcoming household in North London. Frances Lennox stands at her stove, bringing another feast to readiness before ladling it out to the motley, youthful crew assembled around her hospitable table – here are her two sons, smarting at their upbringing but beginning to absorb their mother’s lessons. Around them are ranged their schoolfriends and girlfriends and ex-friends and new friends fresh off the street. The feast begins. Wine and talk flow. Everything is being changed and being challenged. And here in this kitchen, the nutritious tolerance can be sniffed.
But what is being tolerated? And where will it end? Over there in the corner is Frances’ ex-husband, Comrade Johnny, who delivers his rousing tirades, then laps up the adolescent adulation while he laps up his soup, before disappearing into the night to evade the clutches of his responsibilities. Upstairs sits Johnny’s exiled mother, funding all, but finding she can embrace only one lost little girl – Sylvia, who has to travel to Africa, to freshly, fervently independent Zimlia, to find out who she is and what she wants. And, yes, what of the Africans, what will they tolerate?
These are the people dreaming the Sixties into being and the people who on the morning after all that dreaming, woke to find they were the ones taxed with clearing up and making good.
No living novelist in Britain is in a better position than Doris Lessing to look at what the world did in that eventful decade. And perhaps no-one else has better expressed the difference between the male experience of the 1960s and what followed and the female experience of the same thing than she has here in The Sweetest Dream.
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The motivating power of dream and the political price of illusions are the subject of Doris Lessing's extended family saga, The Sweetest Dream. While Frances Lennox, uncomplaining and unsentimental about her roles as 60s earth mother for a string of "screwed up" post-war children, serves up endless nurturing at the crowded kitchen table of a large North London house, her erstwhile ex-husband pursues revolution on all-expenses-paid trips and conferences. Occasionally he drops by for free meals or to dump one of the children--or wives--of another failed marriage on Frances' doorstep. Lessing is able to turn a dispassionate eye on the economics of free love, in which women usually pay.
From swinging 60s London to liberated sub-Saharan Africa, the author depicts the human faces of a broad canvas of issues in this polemical piece. The novel ranges from anorexia to AIDS, to casting a questioning eye at the morality of the travellers on the World Bankgravy train. Moving from London to the tragic landscape of post-independence "Zimlia"--a thinly veiled Zimbabwe--Lessing documents the social movement and lost dreams of a post-war generation, for whom "it is always The Dream that counts". --Rachel HolmesReview:
'Her portraits of sympathetic human relationships are of quite staggering beauty… It would be hard to exaggerate the splendour of this book' The Times
'The haunting brilliance of her characters…the passion of her ideas and vision, remain undiminished. She's up there in the pantheon with Honore (Balzac) and George (Eliot)' Independent
'A startling, burningly committed book…she is one of the great imaginative fantastists of our time' Spectator
'Thank goodness for Doris Lessing…she never fails to expose the essential folly of our dreams and good intentions…a great book with a cast of memorable characters' Evening Standard
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Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002261618