Monday, November 14, 2011

The Fifth Child - Doris Lessing

The Fifth Child is a quick one-sitting read from the Nobel prize winner, Doris Lessing. It tells the story of David and Harriet Lovatt, who decide that the path to happiness lies in having many clever and talented children, all growing up together in a large and happy house. Their dream goes well till their fifth child, Ben, is born. It's clear from the beginning that he isn't quite human. He lacks human emotion, the other children hate him, he evokes a chill of horror in anybody who meets him.

Unputdownable is quite an apt word for this small book. It's difficult to know how to classify it, because the story doesn't quite fit into the genre of horror. It takes the reader to the edge and shows her the horrors that lie beneath, but stops short of actually terrifying her.

There is a sequel as well - Ben, in the World. The Fifth Child ends with Ben about to leave home and out into the world. The sequel seems to be about how he fares there.
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