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Mara and Dann: An Adventure (1999)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006093056X, Paperback)Question: What do Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear and Doris Lessing's Mara and Dann have in common? Answer: an ice age. Not the same ice age, of course--Auel's series of prehistoric adventures took place 35,000 years ago, during the last global freeze; Lessing's tale, on the other hand, is set several thousand years in the future, during the next one. Nevertheless, both books are concerned with profound shifts in the development of humankind. In Lessing's imagined world, the Northern Hemisphere is completely covered with ice and humanity has retreated south. In a land called Ifrik, young Mara and her even younger brother, Dann, are kidnapped one night from their family home and taken to live among strangers: "The scene that the child, then the girl, then the young woman tried so hard to remember was clear enough in its beginnings. She had been hustled--sometimes carried, sometimes pulled along by the hand--through a dark night, nothing to be seen but stars, and then she was pushed into a room and told, Keep quiet." We soon learn that the children have been stolen for their own good, though it will be some time before we discover why. Growing up in a drought-parched land, Mara and Dann learn at an early age how to survive both the hostile environment and enemy peoples.
Eventually, conditions grow so bad in Ifrik that an entire continent of people begin a great northern migration. As Mara and Dann walk the length of the land, Lessing takes the opportunity to comment on the lost cities and vanished civilizations whose remains dot the landscape. That these ancient ruins belong to our civilization makes Mara's curiosity about them resonate eerily. Danger dogs every step; the children are captured by different, warring groups and their destinies take very different paths. A political novelist first and foremost, Lessing uses her futuristic fable to comment on the sins and foibles of humanity as it is now--on war and slavery, sexism and racism--and on its one saving grace, the ability to love. --Margaret Prior
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 20 Apr 2011 11:36:57 -0400)
In a world destroyed by environmental damage, a people trek north in search of the remnants of civilization. They include two children and it is through their eyes that the novel analyzes the real meaning of civilization.
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