Thursday, June 19, 2008
Books – Book Review – The Fifth Child – Doris Lessing
I read The Asylum's Review of this novella and had to read it.
A view of modern life that still applies today. A young English couple from the 1960s/1970s decides to have many children in the age when birth control was started to become the norm and so were divorced couples.
Everyone is aghast that Harriet wants so many children, and she begins to pop them out almost every year and brings them to her large Victorian suburban home. What she doesn't realize that anyone who owned a house that large in the 19th century had a least one servant and one nanny to help run the household. She gets overwhelmed and her mother starts to live with the family almost full-time. David has to ask his father for more money to support the growing family and he has to work more hours at his firm.
When Harriet gets pregnant with the fifth one, it's not a normal pregnancy from day one. "Sometimes she believed hooves were cutting her tender inside flesh, sometimes claws." In order to survive the pains, she took a lot of tranquilizers, some prescribed, some as gifts from friends.
When Ben was born, he took over the family. He was not a normal child.
This slim novel asks, "Should one child be allowed to rule the home?" "What is the responsibility of the parents toward the other children?" Should the Star Trek-Vulcan rule, "The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the one" apply in this case?
As you read, you wonder what will happen next and what is Ben capable of doing.
Labels: Doris Lessing