May 9, 2008
This Nobel Laureate’s novel recreates the quiet horror of a woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate. Lessing's story is both a riveting chronicle of human disintegration and a
beautifully underscored social critique. It is clear that the intent of the author is not to incite sympathy in its readers but to bring across a poignant tale of human conflicts, conveying the complexity of human emotions. In the beginning, the protagonist, Mary Turner, is depicted as a self-confident,
independent young woman until one day a couple of careless words turn her life upside down, thus beginning her slow descent into madness.
Written in a relentless but powerful prose, the book is more than a simple portrayal of a failed marriage or the Victorian-esque attitude toward sex, but the fear of black power that Lessing saw as underlying the white colonial experience of Africa. The book’s storyline is no laughing matter, and it makes
for well-argued debates and thoughtful critiques among friends, family members and book club participants.