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The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels by Doris…

The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels (2003)

by Doris Lessing

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English (8)  French (6)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  All (19)
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I predicted a year before it happened that Doris Lessing would get the Nobel Prize. I haven't read very much of her work, maybe five of her novels and none of the rest of her works, but I just felt that the depth and breadth of her output was deserving of that acknowledgement. So I was very happy when she got the award and I was determined to read more of her work. Thanks to BookCrossing I've added one novel and one book of short stories to my list.

I think my favourite of these four stories was "Victoria and the Staveneys". I found it explored a lot of the same themes that her books do but each time there is a unique perspective. I just thought Victoria's antipathy to country life was hilarious, a side of Lessing I had not seen before.

I also liked "The Reason for It". At the time she got her Nobel Prize someone said (perhaps on BookCrossing) that she was the first science fiction writer to get the Nobel. And this story shows her aptitude for speculative fiction (as I think it would be called). I thought it completely conveyed the society with its history and present problems and it perhaps even acted as a lead in to "The Love Child". When I read the Kipling poem that the Colonel read out (Cities and Thrones and Powers Stand in Time's eye, Almost as long as flowers, Which daily die:) I wondered if that poem had been the inspiration for "The Reason for It".

I think Lessing is a genius. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read more of her. I have katayoun's address so it will be mailed off to her asap. I hope it gets to Iran all right. Since kobie03 put a bookmark with the words to O Canada on it (where have I seen those before?)I thought I would put one of the French language bookmarks in that varykino sent to me last year. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 7, 2017 |
This collection of four novellas is vintage Doris Lessing. Published in 2003, it encompasses many of her signature themes: the process of aging, class and race relationships, the bittersweet pain of love and passion, and a recognition that how a civilization cares for its environment reflects its health.

The title novella, "The Grandmothers" is a wry tale of two women who grow up as best friends, are young mothers together and have tangled relationships with each other's sons.

"Victoria and the Staveneys" examines the intertwined relationship of Victoria, growing up in council flats, orphaned and burdened with the care of her dying aunt, with a self-absorbed theatrical family that has a socialist bent.

In "The Reason for It," we have the chronicle of the decay of an ancient civilization, destroyed because its guardians could not recognize the results of their misjudgement.

The final novella, "A Love Child," has the most fully developed protagonist and plot. James, drafted into the British army at the onset of WWII, is sent off to India on a hellish ship transport. While the ship docks in Cape Town to refuel and resupply, he has a passionate fling with a young matron. The rest of the war and the rest of his life are delineated by his obsession and memories of those brief days.

Although the reviewers in The Guardian and The New York Times found the collection uneven -- I found it very satisfying and reflective of the varieties of Lessing's fictions. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Jan 7, 2015 |
I loved the story [The Grandmothers] but could not face completing any of the other stories in this collection. [[Doris Lessing]] is a brilliant writer, but her subjects are too harsh. ( )
  tandah | Jul 5, 2014 |
This book contains four novellas that show off Doris Lessing wide-ranging ideas and her facility with plot and language. Not as wonderful as some of her works, but very enjoyable. ( )
  gbelik | Oct 9, 2013 |
  cassyd | Mar 8, 2011 |
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De part et d'autre d'un petit promontoire surchargé de cafés et de restaurants s'étendait une mer folâtre mais modérée.
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Haiku summary
Ma mère et ta mère.
L'amour a tout emporté.
Mon fils et ton fils.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060530111, Paperback)

In the title novel, two friends fall in love with each other's teenage sons, and these passions last for years, until the women end them, vowing a respectable old age. In Victoria and the Staveneys, a young woman gives birth to a child of mixed race and struggles with feelings of estrangement as her daughter gets drawn into a world of white privilege. The Reason for It traces the birth, faltering, and decline of an ancient culture, with enlightening modern resonances. A Love Child features a World War II soldier who believes he has fathered a love child during a fleeting wartime romance and cannot be convinced otherwise.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:14 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"The Grandmothers: Two women, close friends, fall in love with each other's teenage sons, and these passions last for years, until the women end them, promising a respectable old age." "Victoria and the Staveneys: A poor black girl has a baby with the son of a liberal middle-class family and finds that her little girl is slowly being absorbed into the world of white privilege and becoming estranged from her." "The Reason for It: Certain to appeal to fans of Shikasta and Memoirs of a Survivor, it describes the birth, flourishing, and decline of a culture long, long ago, but with many modern echoes." "A Love Child: A soldier in World War II, during the dangerous voyage to India around the Cape, falls in love on shore leave and remains convinced that a love child resulted from the wartime romance."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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