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The Grass is Singing

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  6,996 Ratings  ·  661 Reviews
Set in South Africa under white rule, Doris Lessing's first novel is both a riveting chronicle of human disintegration and a beautifully understated social critique.

Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm work their slow poiso
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 6th 2000 by Flamingo (first published 1950)
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Albina Yes and no, it is a very good book and worth a read and is definitely meant as a critique on a colonial patriarchical society. Mostly it is just about…moreYes and no, it is a very good book and worth a read and is definitely meant as a critique on a colonial patriarchical society. Mostly it is just about the deep unhappiness that comes with not being able to live your life on your own terms.(less)
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Petra X
Feb 19, 2016 Petra X rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
This book is a stunning exposé of why Zimbabwe has Mugabe and why he, evil as he is, is certainly no worse than that great white hope, Sir Cecil Rhodes. The whites in this book, with one exception, are all devotees of Rhodes and his brand of racism - Rhodesia for the whites, the blacks are suitable for being farm animals as they are all simpleminded thieves, liars and hate the white man. It's the same mindset as slavery really.

The grass is singing cicada songs, songs of blood, songs of freedom w
Jun 18, 2016 Dolors rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The resilient walkers under scorching circumstances
Shelves: read-in-2016
If this novel impresses from the very beginning it is because of the openness in which Lessing plays her cards in the first chapter. The voice of the omniscient narrator glows with the clarity of objective facts that is missing in the rest of the novel, replaced by an increasingly suffocating account of two doomed lives that slowly disintegrate in polarized madness.
The tragic end of Mary Turner, a white woman, in the hands of Moses, her black servant, in a remote, hostile South African hell is r
Bill  Kerwin
Sep 21, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

Doris Lessing's first novel has the precision of a fine short story and the depth of a much longer novel. This portrait of the psychologial disintegration of a farmer's wife saddled with an ineffectual husband on a luckless South African farm is precisely realized and and completely convincing.

The last quarter of the novel, however, is weaker than the rest. The character of the black house servant Moses is more of a symbol than a human being, and the ending--meant to be tragic--descends to melo
Nov 24, 2012 Kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her first novel, The Grass is Singing (first published 1950), Doris Lessing begins with a short description of a crime on a farm in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe):

By Special Correspondent
Mary Turner, wife of Richard Turner, a farmer at Ngesi, was found murdered on the front veranda of their homestead yesterday morning. The houseboy, who has been arrested, has confessed to the crime. No motive has been discovered. It is thought he was in search of valuables.

For Lessing, the cri
Aug 06, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Grass is Singing is a novel of colonialism, human degradation, and an uncomfortable view of the prevailing attitude of a time and place, and yet, to me it was more so a powerful portrait of a crumbling mind.

Mary Turner is a hideous woman; bitter, cruel, entitled. What started out as a woman’s resentment over a boring farm life and a distant marriage soon turned into something deeper and much more unsettling. Sometimes people are broken so early in their life that it’s impossible to ever be
Re-read after about 7 year's break.

One of the unusual things about this, Lessing's first published book, is the extreme omniscient author position she takes. She describes a character's appearance to others, then swoops into her psyche to reveal her thoughts. She describes someone's response to another person's expression and then jumps to his companion's view of him. To emphasise her power even further, she shifts from objective descriptions of the landscape to characters' experiences of it. Ho
Apr 13, 2016 Dem rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub-reads
2.5 Stars The Grass is singing by Dorris Lessing was a bookclub read.

I found the book an ok read, I liked the setting of the novel and thought the author conveyed an excellent sense of time and place.
The story at the core of this novel is about race and the racist attitudes of society at this time in Southern Rhodesia.
The book is a challenging read and I found the characters quite dislikable and a relentless air of doom and gloom about the plot.

The novel opens with the announcement in a local
Jan 28, 2016 Heba rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
وكيف تستقيم الحياة مع وجود حاجز اللون بين البشر ؟؟؟
بدايةً اود الاعتذار عن اضطراري لكتابة "السود" فى مراجعتي لأننى لا أؤمن بوجود الأبيض والأسود كلون للبشرة ليكون سبباً لتميز احدهما وازدراء الأخر
تناولت "دوريس ليسينج" الحضارة البيضاء فى هذة الرواية ببراعة ومصدقية لا حدود لهما ...ومحاولة الحضارة البيضاء الدفاع عن نفسها إبان الحرب العالمية الثانية فى احد المستعمرات البريطانية فى جنوب افريقيا
حيث فكرة إقامة علاقة إنسانية بين البيض والسود تعد تهديداً صريحاً بإنهيار هذة الحضارة والقضاء عليها ...!!!
زواج "
The Grass is Singing is Doris Lessing's first novel, published in 1950. It is a savage and stark indictment of South Africa's apartheid system. It is set in what was formerly Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and concentrates on Rhodesian white culture with its racist and prejudiced attitudes. The system of gross racial injustice dominates both the society and this story.

The novel is told in flashback. At the beginning of chapter one there is a brief news report of the murder of a white woman plu
Parthiban Sekar
"It is by the failures and misfits of a civilization that one can best judge its weakness"

Was it civilization which led to colonization or was it the other way? Trying to find answer for this question would like trying to answer the ever puzzling question "Which came first: chicken or the egg? I am sure that there are apparently acceptable answers for the latter but not the former. Because civilization and colonization are confederates encroaching on the foreign lands, enslaving the nat
Sep 17, 2007 Giovanna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sandra
I wouldn't say that I enjoyed this book (because how can you enjoy the telling of the slow but constant decomposition of a woman and her psyche) but I do have to say that it was an engrossing read. Although I could not identify with the characters and rejected their weaknesses and frailties, I could not put the book down. The author creates a wonderful psychological vortex in the hot and arid lands of the African bush and she is not afraid to take it to its ultimate conclusion. The book is also ...more
Oct 26, 2008 Georgia rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
Not the good time read of the year. In this book it's almost impossible to not pity and despise all of the characters. Set in Rhodesia, this is Doris Lessing's first novel and she pulls from her experience growing up in Africa.

Page 1. Mary Turner has been murdered on the farm where she and her husband Dick live. That's about as pleasant as the book gets. So be warned. Lessing goes back from this gruesome scene to explain how Mary left her pleasant single life working in the city and ended up mis
A remarkable book, given that it was first published in 1950 during a much different era than the current one in Africa. For me it is an extension, if you will, of similar racial prejudice and hardships experienced by the Jamaicans who migrated to England after the Second World War as described in "Small Island", written by Andrea Levy, as well as so many other authors reporting similar kind of circumstances. Their books, however, were based on historical events, where as Lessing's book was rele ...more
This book grows on you. While I was reading it, it disturbed me. It has a strong emotional impact. What disturbed me was that the story is told. There is an omniscient narrator who explains everything, what happens and why each character makes the choices they make. We are told how they feel and why they do particular things. How as a reader do you react if you think other reasons could be the cause of a particular choice? I wasn’t quite sure if I believed what I was being told, so rather than a ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
My brother-in-law loves to spend his weekend drinking with his buddies. They drink and swap tales. My mother, sister, wife, our househelps and a lot of women I know all have their favorite soap operas, movies, gossips and daily topics for discussion. A brother of mine is a voracious reader; the other, addicted to historical trivia. All these are just varied ways to satisfy the great human need for stories.

Great story, this novel with a title taken from T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," that part wh
رغد قاسم
هذهِ الرواية مكتوبة بحنكة طبيب سايكولوجي عريق
درجة الفهم للنفس البشرية والمرأة بالذات، وكم الحكمة في هذهِ الرواية صادم بالفعل.
بدت لي الرواية أول الأمر مملة، لكن هذا التعمق في شخصية "ماري" تعمق غريب
لم أصادف من قبل كاتباً يرى دواخل الإنسان بهذا الوضوح، كاتباً يكتب بهذهِ القوة والسيطرة
الآن فهمت سر عظمة دوريس ليسنج!
Doris Lessing, hep okumak istediğim; ama ancak bu sene okuma fırsatı bulabildiğim bir yazar. Türkü Söylüyor Otlar okuduğum ilk kitabı, anlamının bol olduğunu düşündüğüm bir kitabı.

Mary, küçükken anne ve babasının yaşadıklarından ötürü asla anne ve babasınınki gibi bir evliliğe sahip olmamaya kararlı olan bir kadın. Şehirde çalışıyor, kendi parasını kazanıyor ve keyifle hayatını sürdürüyor; fakat çevresindekiler teker teker evlenmeye başlaması ve toplumun da kendisine bu yöndeki baskılarından dol
Lynne King
I have no doubt that this is a brilliant book but it is not for me.
Jun 09, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
"The Grass Is Singing" was Doris Lessing's first novel, published in 1950 when she was thirty years old, had moved from Southern Rhodesia to London and had had 3 children by two husbands. Lessing wasn't born in Africa -- she came with her British parents as a young child from Persia -- but her early novels were based on her years on her family's struggling farm and as a young wife and mother in colonial Africa with its rigid constraints based on race, class and gender.

While “The Grass Is Singin
Oct 01, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
VideoRecensione: ne parlo al minuto (6:00)
While the title sounds rather lyrical the story is anything but that. This is the story of Mary and Richard Turner, who farm the land in South Africa in the forties when apartheid is the rule. Mary is an intelligent woman who makes a a fateful choice in Richard for her husband. Living with Richard, who is ineffectual and unsuited to the life of farming, soon leads Mary to depression. She grows progressively bitter and takes her frustration out on the black servants that help run the farm. In spi ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Paola rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel, 2014, africa, apartheid
So many things go on in this novel, the unravelling of a marriage doomed from the start in apartheid South Africa* showing us how two people can cooperate gently and effortlessly in causing each other's misery. The natives all around are a necessary nuisance and a handy outlet for despairing frustration.

Lessing captures with great skill the many facets of the personalities of average individuals, from the protagonists Mary and Dick Turner, to the embodiment of South African white farming society
Ronald Morton
Mar 30, 2016 Ronald Morton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-prize, by-women
The newspaper did not say much. People all over the country must have glanced at the paragraph with its sensational heading and felt a little spurt of anger mingled with what was almost satisfaction, as if some belief had been confirmed, as if something had happened which could only have been expected. When natives steal, murder or rape, that is the feeling white people have.

And then they turned the page to something else.
That this was Doris Lessing's first novel is quite remarkable.

[most of th
Feb 02, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
This is a very powerful book that deals with racism in South Africa during apartheid. What impressed me about the novel is that she is able to convey the inherent fear and hatred that existed between whites and blacks in such a way that shows how subconscious their feelings were. The whites were self-righteous in their belief that the natives were subhuman and good for only serving the whites. They were offended if natives spoke English to them—many believing they shouldn’t be educated. The book ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing read, if not wholly depressing, as one watches a woman's psyche unravel amidst the solitary, barren farm life of pre-Apartheid South Africa.

Without much to endear a reader to her, one cannot help but feel for this woman's slow descent into quiet, apathetic madness. (view spoiler)

Read in less than a day, it bears out Ms. L
For such a short novel, it took me a while to read this book. It starts out in such a riveting way, announcing the murder of Mary Turner in the first pages of the book. But this is not a murder mystery regardless of such a beginning. There is no mystery at all as to the identity of the killer. No, the question that begs to be answered is how did the relationship between Mary and the killer escalate to the point that murder was practically inevitable.

This novel is a little different from the norm
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 03, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: LibraryThing: Best African Books
I read this in one sitting--not so much because it's short--although it's a relatively short novel--but I found it nigh un-putdownable, which is a bit odd, because this novel has several aspects I'd ordinarily find off-putting. It's on an ugly subject--racism, with characters impossible to like but I found oddly compelling, and it's very interior--with pages, even chapters--where you'll find very little to no dialogue.

This is set in what was Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) around World War II.
Feb 18, 2010 Ally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics
The Grass is Singing is a pretty grim book but for all its soul-destroying intensity it is surprisingly gripping and - dare I say it - an easy read. That says a lot about Doris Lessing's abilities as a writer.

This is not a murder mystery – despite what the first chapter would have us believe. The murder is a tool to display wider white supremacist attitudes. The story of Mary provides a backdrop against which Lessing provides a subtle but powerful social scrutiny of society under Apartheid. All
Feb 04, 2014 Pink rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot, even more so realising it was Lessing's first novel written back in 1950. I found her writing very evocative, being able to picture the African landscapes and detailed characters in my head. I flew through this short book in little over a day, as I was captivated by the story and wanted to find out what happened. Yet somewhere towards the end, the story ran out of steam for me and kind of drifted off from all the detail that I'd previously loved. While this book won't be ...more
Jan 19, 2013 Bakunin rated it it was amazing
One of the best novels I've ever read. With great clarity Lessing tells the story of a world with racial segregation, where group belonging is essential to every persons survival.
She manages to enter the depths of the human psyche in order to try to understand what it means to be human. The novel is ultimately an exploration of la condition humaine and the expressive prose is as alive today as it was when it was writter.
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A near classic 1 7 Jun 06, 2016 11:23PM  
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SOcial setting 1 24 Jun 16, 2008 02:18AM  
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Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv ...more
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“Loneliness, she thought, was craving for other people's company. But she did not know that loneliness can be an unnoticed cramping of the spirit for lack of companionship.” 41 likes
“If she had been left alone she would have gone on, in her own way, enjoying herself thoroughly, until people found one day that she had turned imperceptibly into one of those women who have become old without ever having been middle aged: a little withered, a little acid, hard as nails, sentimentally kindhearted, and addicted to religion or small dogs.” 34 likes
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