Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fifth Child” as Want to Read:
The Fifth Child
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fifth Child

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  12,971 ratings  ·  1,319 reviews
Nobel Prize Winner Doris Lessing's contemporary gothic horror story centered on the birth of a baby who seems less than human, probes society's unwillingness to recognize its own brutality. Harriet and David Lovatt, parents of four children, have created an idyll of domestic bliss in defiance of the social trends of late 1960s England. While around them crime and unrest su ...more
Paperback, 146 pages
Published November 17th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fifth Child, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ekaterina In the beginning, I was shocked how they planned their life (buying a house they could not afford and getting a lot of children) without being able to…moreIn the beginning, I was shocked how they planned their life (buying a house they could not afford and getting a lot of children) without being able to pay for it by themselves. They took if for granted other people paid for their happiness. At the end, however, it was very sad and heartbreaking: her sitting at the table in an empty house. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,971 ratings  ·  1,319 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Huda Yahya
الشعور القوي الذي غمرني هو
التعجب من نيل دوريس ليسينج نوبل

فالرواية أقل من عادية
ولم أشعر معها بأي ابداع تقريبا

ليست سيئة نعم
وربما للمؤلفة كتب أهم
ولكنني لست متحفزة للقراءة لها مجددا

سيطر علي شعور ربما يبدو فكاهيا
شعرتُ بأنني طوال القراءة أجلس أمام شاشة تلفاز
وأشاهد فيلما تليفزيونيا مملا قليلا وقديم
وفيه الترجمة تظهر بالبنط العريض جدا كما كان الحال في افلام التسعينات

باختصار لا أرشحها لأحد
Stela
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stela by: Carmen Irimia
It was the summer of 2013 when a friend of mine, who’s an English teacher, asked me how I would teach “The Fifth Child”. Since I didn’t know about the book or have it, she sent me a PDF copy and here I am, after an unsettling but fascinating reading, asking myself the same question: what key of lecture could I offer? Because it is, undoubtedly, worth reading. A little masterpiece about the fragility of happiness and the illusion of the security provided by family, as the author herself said in a ...more
Fabian
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, ya know that ugly devil baby-in-arms in that one impressionable scene in "Passion of the Christ"? Yeah, well, he's here in the middle of this taut, mesmerizing novella, growing up and ripping his innocent family to shreds.

Well... he says "Hi."
Luís C.
Harriet and David work in the same company, she is a graphic designer and he is an architect. They love each other, decide to marry and promise to have many children.
To welcome their future big family, their choice stopped on a huge building in the suburbs of London. Pregnancies follow one another quickly in a joyous house always full, family celebrations bringing together the parents and brothers and sisters of the couple, each attracted by the harmony that reigns there. The birth of Ben, the f
...more
Jan-Maat
This is a story about a woman who gives birth to a troll.

It is neither charming nor delightful.

It reminded me of Peter the Great, although he didn't give birth to a troll.

You know he founded the City of St.Petersburg and designed it to have lots of canals because the Dutch were the most modern nation and they had lots of canals - though naturally it wouldn't have been expressed like that, perhaps he would have said that his new city required an appropriate transport infrastructure to meet the ne
...more
Doralyn
May 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel was disturbing on so many levels. It was supposed to have started out with this great couple who had all these wonderful family ideals, until the fifth child came along who was really tough to take (and basically a commentary on society's reaction to such a different child). However, I never saw the couple as having a great marriage. The only testament to any sort of greatness I guess would be their coupled desire to have a lot of children. Simply because their house was constantly fi ...more
Mariel
Apr 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody knows
Recommended to Mariel by: everybody understands

She felt rejected by him. They had always loved to lie here feeling a new life, greeting it. She had waited four times for the first little flutters, easily mistaken but then certain; the sensation that was as if a fish mouthed out a bubble; the small responses to her movements, her touch, and even- she was convinced- her thoughts.


But what about me? I've been shot. Go on without me, save yourselves. Ooh aah it hurts, like a spoon or a papercut that irritates your mind into the beyond. Listen,
...more
Puck
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of "Rosemary's Baby"
Readers, beware of novella’s: they might look short, but their stories can haunt you for days.

Harriet and David Lovatt’s life couldn’t be happier: a good marriage, a big house perfect for hosting parties, and four healthy and charming children. Sure, it’s a lot of work for a couple both 26 years old, but this is the life they dreamed off!
Yet when Harriet gives birth to the fifth child, Ben, every happy dream disappears. “Neanderthal Ben” is too strong for his age, always screams, and the little
...more
Roula
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ενα μικρο(σε εκταση) αριστουργημα για τα ψεματα που λεμε στον εαυτο μας προκειμενου να απαλλαγουμε απο τις ευθυνες μας , αλλα και για τον τρομακτικο εγωισμο των ανθρωπων που προτιμουν να φτασουν στα πιο ακραια σημεια συμπεριφορας προκειμενου να μην θολωσουν την εικονα της "οικογενειακης ευτυχιας" που εχουν φαντασιωθει..με θυμωσε, με στενοχωρησε, με προβληματισε οπως οφειλει να κανει καθε σημαντικο βιβλιο.
Astraea
به نظرم هریت و دیوید افرد کاملا بی مسئولیت و خوشگذرانی هستند که بار زندگیشونو به دوش دیگران میزارن و توقع کمک از دیگران رو دارند. مشکل اونها اینه که وقتی همه چیز کامله احساس خوشبختی میکنن....
سعی نویسنده این بود که وجهه ترسناک به کتاب بده ولی موفق نبود.
البته شاید اگر فیلم کتاب ساخته بشه( اطلاع ندارم) شادید ترسناک باشه...
Teresa
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5e, x-pl19, n-irao
Harriet e David eram diferentes dos jovens da sua geração. Vistos pelos outros como tímidos, conservadores, antiquados e outros adjetivos pouco abonatórios com que os "normais" classificam aqueles que, não seguindo a "moda", escolhem manterem-se fiéis às suas ideias e objectivos. Encontraram-se numa festa e reconheceram-se como almas gémeas. Durante os primeiros anos de casamento foram plenamente felizes e todos os seus sonhos se concretizaram: uma casa maravilhosa, sempre cheia e em festa com a ...more
Thomson Kneeland
Apr 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was my introduction to the writing of Doris Lessing; I had high hopes for the book but was sorely disappointed. The writing was pretty unengaging for me, though not poor. The plot was ridiculous in content, though perhaps acceptable as a sort of "unmagical realism"; completely unrealistic and unbelievable, along with two dimensional characters suitable for allegory only. Perhaps the book stands as an indictment of conservative 1950's family values, white picket fences, women staying home to ...more
Erasmia Kritikou
" Η απόκτηση ενός παιδιού είναι λοταρία. Ευτυχώς ή δυστυχώς δεν μπορούμε να διαλέξουμε τι θα βγάλει η λοταρία"

Ξεκίνησα αυτό το βιβλίο αργά τη νύχτα και δεν μπορούσα να το αφήσω απ' τα χέρια κι απ τα μάτια μου, παζαρεύοντας με τον ύπνο ως τα ξημερώματα. Ξεκίνησα το βιβλίο αυτό "για να νυστάξω" και μου εφυγε ολος ο υπνος και με γεμισε αγωνία και υπερένταση. Ηταν αδυνατον να το αφήσω κάτω εως να διαβασω και την τελευταία του αράδα.
Σ ενα τοσο δυσκολο θέμα που παιζει με τα κοινωνικά ταμπού, τα "καθω
...more
Daisy
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: well, I know who I wouldn't recommend it to
Shelves: england, house, autism
"It's crazy," said Dorothy. She was flushed with the hot tea and with all the things she was forcing herself not to say. p. 34

This is fascinating.
Yes this is about a bad seed, the last child in an otherwise happy family. But it also has a lot to do with perception and judgement, how the parents, Harriet and David, see themselves and how others see them and how they think others see them. And how they see others, particularly their fifth child. Who is criticized and how and why? What expectations
...more
Ahmed
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
هذا هو أول عمل أقرأه لدوريس ليسنج:
عمل اجتماعى رفيع يحكى ببساطه عن طفل (طفرة) فى وسط أسرته .
يصور لنا العمل مدى المعاناة التى تعانيها جميع الأطراف من (الأب والأم ) وباقى أفراد الأسرة.
رغم أن العمل عن المجتمع الإنجليزى إلا أنه يجوز عليه قياس باقى مجتمعات العالم.
عمق نفسى واضح ودراية بمفاهييم التربيه المختلفه مع واقعيه فى تناول العمل
فى المجمل عمل جيد .
Glenn Sumi
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winners
Review to come. The book took a while to heat up, but what a powerful, devastating ending.
Sara Kamjou
Oct 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
اصلا نتونستم باهاش ارتباط برقرار کنم و دوستش داشته باشم.
Irs
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Lo mal que lo he pasado leyendo este libro, por favor, y eso que es tan cortito que en un par de viajes en bus te lo ventilas. Pero se pasa realmente mal y es que no hace falta que un libro de terror tenga monstruos, aliens, etc, para dar miedo, es mucho mejor cuando cuentas una historia convencional y le das un toque siniestro. En El quinto hijo, Harriet y David son una pareja que cumplen su sueño en común, que es comprar una casa enorme y tener familia numerosa. Todo va bien con Luke, Helen, J ...more
Donna
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book groups
Wow!

This is the first Doris Lessing book I've read and she's a great writer. This is a true "horror" story...not in the classic sense, but in the real sense of a horrible situation that people must confront. It leaves the reader with the thought "what would you do if you found yourself in this situation?". Therefore it is a highly discussable book.

Interesting characters, interesting plot, great writing. What more can a reader ask?

Reread in April 2010 for Maze book discussion. Still thought it w
...more
Yousra
Jul 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
مش قادرة أفهم إحساسي بعد الرواية دي!!! :) حاولت أقرا مراجعات وقعدت أدور على حد ممكن يكون فكر في إن إيه يا ست الجنان ده قرفتينا جتك هبل مثلا بس ملقيتش!!! >_<

لقيت ناس كتير واخدين الموضوع جد وكاتبين مراجعات "عميقة" خاصة الأجانب
-_-

المصيبة إني حاولت أعرف تيتة دوريس أخدت النوبل عن أي رواية بس فيه كلام مبهم عن الجوايز اللي أخدتها كلها جمعاء!! وعرفت إنها كانت نسوية وبترعى مشاكل النساء وقريت كلام كبير عن ولادتها والبلاد اللي عاشت فيها بس دورت على أي حاجة نسوية في القصة مالقيتش

طب القصة دي عايزة تق
...more
Ryl
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "The Fifth Child" last night. That was so, sooooo disturbing. I'm exhausted today because I got my hands on it at 7:30pm and then I was up til 2 finishing it, but I knew I'd never be able to sleep unless I just finished it. Then I couldn't stop thinking about it, and dreamed about it!

If you haven't read it but have any inclination at all to read it, stop here and don't read the rest of my review. Then read it, and then come back here so we can discuss!!! I'm dying to talk to someone abou
...more
FeReSHte
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, horror
داستان کتاب مدام فیلم "باید راجع به کوین صحبت کنیم" رو به خاطرم می اورد. مادری که در نتیجه ی بارداری ناخواسته صاحب کودکی میشه که از همون نوزادی شروره تم مشترک این فیلم با این کتابه.هر دو هم به نوعی تو ژانر وحشت طبقه بندی میشن. این که این شر به ذات بچه بر می گرده یا نتیجه ی مهر و عاطفه ایه که مادر در دوران بارداری نسبت به فرزندش حس نمی کنه تا اخر ماجرا یه علامت سوال بزرگ باقی می مونه . این بچه همه ی برنامه ها و مقاصد از پیش تعیین شده ی خانواده برای پیشرفت و خوشبختی رو نه تنها متوقف می کنه بلکه کل ...more
Deborah Markus
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reread this the day Doris Lessing died. It's very short, and every sentence packs a heady concentration of power.

This is the novel that introduced me to Lessing. I was lucky enough to be working in a bookstore when it was released; I read a review and immediately used my employee's discount to buy a copy. I think I read it all in one sitting that day, too.

The premise is simple: A man and a woman fall in love because each sees in the other a rejection of the shallow, worldly, sex-is-entertainm
...more
Didi
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book freaked me out. I've never read a Doris Lessing book before and I'm almost sure that this one is out of the ordinary compared to what she usually writes. It's short but packed with lots of ideas concerning family, mother-children relationships, husband -wife relationships, societal expectations, etc. All done with a touch of gothic horror to slide it right down. Well worth the read. Now I'm intrigued to read other titles from Lessing. Although I'm afraid tackling would be a better choi ...more
نعیمه بخشی
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, 1394
فرزند پنجم دربارهی خانواده است، دربارهی فروپاشی خانواده.
چطور ممکن است تمام خوشیها ناگهان از بین بروند؟ چطور ممکن است زن و مردی مثل هریت و دیوید که تمام آرزویشان داشتن تعداد زیادی بچه است به وضعی برسند که دیگر رابطهشان به وضعی تصنعی و خالی از معنا بکشد؟ بِن فرزند پنجم است. او یک هیولای کوچک و مهارنشدنی است که نه میتوان از بینش بُرد و نه میتوان به حال رهایش کرد. او غیرعادی است، ناخوشایند و خالی از رفتارهای استاندارد اجتماعی. و دوریس لسینگ با روایتی ساده اما جذاب به داستان خانوادهای میپردازد که بی
...more
Alex
You cannot shape your child into what you want, says Doris Lessing: you must help him become what he is. He may not be exactly in your image - but he will be a special snowflake in his own way. Glad to be getting more parenting tips from literature.
Susana
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: emprestados, ingleses
(review in English below)

Não recomendo este livro a ninguém.
As duas estrelas são benevolentes, na verdade é 1,5.
Até se lê bem, à conta da escrita simples, e rapidamente, também por não ter capítulos, sucedendo-se as cenas quase sem darmos conta.
Ao princípio até parece uma história "normal", mas depois surge Ben, a criança que aparenta ter vindo dum mundo ancestral e que arruína a felicidade de toda a família.
Talvez a autora tenha querido escrever uma alegoria quanto à impossibilidade de ser fel
...more
Yasaman A
زن و مردی رو تصور کنید که از زندگی خانواده های خودشون راضی نیستن؛ پس تصمیم می گیرن که با هم یه خانواده ی جدید بسازن: خانواده ای بزرگ، پرجمعیت و شاد که پناه تمام عموزاده های غم زده و خواهر و برادرهای نیمه خوشبختشون باشه. البته، البته، البته که همچین نقشه ای محکوم به شکسته. ذات دنیاست که نقشه ی ما برای به شادی ابدی رسیدن رو به چالش بکشه. کتاب داستان سروکله زدن این خانواده با بچه ی پنجمشونه. بچه ای که اومده تا به شادی یه خونواده پایان بده...
rachel  misfiticus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Weston
Certainly this is an odd book and a story that I wasn't expecting. Rather than being a horror story as it is reviewed by some media I found it very sad, though Lessing's telling of it lacks sympathy. It seems also to be told in a rush.

Few will embark on the novella without knowing that the fifth child of Harriet and David, is a special one, but a third of the novel is spent relating the parents' story up until then. I wasn't expecting another version of the Omen, but the case of Ben's childhood
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Il libraio che imbrogliò l'Inghilterra
  • The Shutter of Snow
  • Greed
  • Kinds of Love
  • The Last Joy
  • White Egrets
  • The Homecoming
  • A Sport of Nature
  • Red Rose, White Rose
  • The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque
  • The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from The Union of Concerned Scientists
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • The Screens
  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
  • Manservant and Maidservant
  • Is He Popenjoy?
  • O bibliotece
  • Praxis
See similar books…
1,734 followers
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
“...you can only value something if you've experienced it.” 8 likes
“We are being punished, that’s all.” “What for?” he demanded, already on guard because there was a tone in her voice he hated. “For presuming. For thinking we could be happy. Happy because we decided we would be.” 8 likes
More quotes…