Linda Lipko's Reviews > The Fifth Child

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
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Aug 17, 12

Read in August, 2012

What a book! What a story! What a writer!

David and Harriett are unique individuals and different from their work group and their peers.

In their minds, finding each other equated to a perfect match.

Living a life of upper middle class in the countryside of England, they purchase a huge house, unaffordable even by their standards.

I couldn't relate to David and Harriett and the author did a great job at portraying them as selfish and self absorbed individuals who, together as a team, double the narcissistic behavior.

Expecting family to support their choices, immediately they decide to have many children. Much to the consternation of parents, relatives and friends, in rapid succession, they have four healthy children.

Finding herself pregnant with the fifth proves problematic. The child appears to battle in the womb, wearing Harriett to a frazzle.

Pounding, punching and kicking until she is bruised, the 11 pound baby is born. Child number five is antisocial, kills animals, tries to kill his brother and is consequently institutionalized.

Rescuing Ben from the institution and returning him to home is fraught with drama as Ben becomes increasingly "evil."

Lessing does an excellent job portraying a society that blames the sociopathy of the child on mother for her lack of ability to love the child, while paradoxically portraying a very unlikeable mother and father.

This is a disturbing and worthwhile read.
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