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Ben, In the World: The Sequel to the Fifth Child

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,776 ratings  ·  206 reviews
At eighteen, Ben is in the world, but not of it. He is too large, too awkward, too inhumanly made. Now estranged from his family, he must find his own path in life. From London and the south of France to Brazil and the mountains of the Andes. Ben is tossed about in a tumultuous search for his people, a reason for his being. How the world receives him, and, he fares in it w ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 24th 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published March 1st 2000)
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Average rating 3.30  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Ben, In the World: The Sequel to the Fifth Child, Doris Lessing

Ben, in the World is a novel written by Doris Lessing, published in 2000, in which she stages a parody of the 'objectivity' of the narrator's voice.

The story delves into the life of Ben Lovatt following the events of the first book dedicated to this character, The Fifth Child.

Ben, in the World takes place a number of years after the events in The Fifth Child. In the beginning of Ben, in the World, Ben Lovatt is 18-years-old and liv
Jun 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Everyone who liked THE FIFTH CHILD as much as I did should never read this sequel. It answers every question I had while reading THE FIFTH CHILD and destroys all the good ideas by explaining them.
Carmel Hanes
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The Fifth Child was an interesting read, and I was intrigued with the Ben character enough to check out this sequel, which offered a closer look at the being who'd been unable to fit into his family. It was an interesting read in a different way.

Meeting Ben as a child, I had been struck by how he seemed both scary and scared. He terrified his family, appeared to have killed animals, and seemed uncomfortable in his own skin. It would have been easy to dismiss him as evil or ill. But there were hi
Jia Drisdom
Mar 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
After reading the sequel to the fifth child, I felt HIGHLY insulted. If you've read The Fifth Child, please, skip this. I never tell anyone not to read a book. In fact, this is the first book review I have ever written on a public forum. I really could not keep me mouth shut about it. Seriously, do not pick this up.
When I read the fifth child, I was struck by Lessing's prose, character development, and social commentary (Although most folks feel that it was commentary focused on people who are "
H.A. Leuschel
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel of Lessing's outstanding 'The Fifth Child' and it took me a long time to attempt reading the latter's follow-up. It was equally fluid and gripping to read and I appreciate the author's courage to consider writing a story about what happens to Ben after he leaves his family. It does not equal the first book in intensity and creepiness but still very much worth a read! ...more
Kris McCracken
Nov 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Roy Jones Junior. Robert De Niro. Evander Holyfield. Ricky Ponting. Muhammad Ali. It’s hard when the greats lose their powers for all the world to see.

I really wanted to like this novel, only the premise is flawed, the plot is almost non-existent and meandering and the whole novel degenerates into a barely believable sub-par Days of Our Lives conclusion. Moreover, the book is filled with empty caricatures. There’s far too much telling and not enough showing, and ultimately the whole thing is rea
John Anthony
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to the novel The Fifth Child. Ben is now 18, looks older. He is at large in the world where he doesn’t really fit. He survives by instinct – the animal one vying with the human - an unhappy mix for him and one that is exploited frequently by the unscrupulous. We see this scary world through his eyes and experience a gamut of emotions with him, including rage, sorrow, love and tenderness. How will it all end for him and what will this teach us about ourselves and the world we share wit ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"They heard a cry and a slide of small stones & silence.
They slowly got up, slowly followed him.
They made their way to where the precipice fell away from the path. There was Ben, far below, a pile of coloured clothing.
His yellow hair was like a tuft of mountain grass"
Page 177

I was surprised to learn that Ben Lovatt's tale continued.
And so I ordered this book & began to read it ~~

Ben's tale continues from London, to France, to Brazil to the highest mountains where he is told ~ people like him
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was extremely hesitant to read this book, having loved The Fifth Child as much as I did. I didn't want to ruin that book, which is one of my favorites.

The Fifth Child is very character-driven. The Lovatt family is front and center, and we get to know them over the course of a number of years. It's a pretty grim story. Ben, in the World, on the other hand, is almost ridiculously plot-driven. Ben winds up in several countries, meets all kinds of people (who send the story veering off course with
Marcus Hobson
This novel was first published in 2000, as a sequel to The Fifth Child from 1988. I re-read 'The Fifth Child' a few months ago, but had never realised that there was a sequel. While I really enjoyed the first, I found this follow-up more disjointed and less compelling that the story of Ben’s early years and the disruption he brought into his family.
We know how difficult life was for Ben as a small child. He was different to the rest of his family and he antagonised his brothers and sisters. In ‘
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The more time I allowed, the more powerful this felt. The allegorical aspects of this book really made me think about society and my own personal treatment of people.
Lorrie Savoy
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
In The Fifth Child, Ben is a monster that the reader both fears and pities. In Ben, in the World, he is merely a pitiful throwback. All of his power and strength is useless, and the fear that he inspired as a feral child-beast becomes laughable. The people who did not recognize Ben for what he was now instantly acknowledge his differences. Those who shelter and care for him (almost exclusively female) are merely versions of Harriet. I did like the mini-stories of the tangential characters, but t ...more
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
After reading The Fifth Child by Lessing, I was interested in finding out what happened to Ben, a seemingly feral child born into a family with four well-behaved blue-eyed, blonde siblings. Ben was the object of derision throughout his school years for the way he looked and his aggressive demeanor. His adolescence was a continuation of his threatening actions. When he was eventually sent to an institution, he was terrified and his aggression escalated until his mother retrieved him despite her f ...more
Emine Sarıtaş
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish it was as striking as The Fifth Child, but unfortunately it wasn't. I expected it to be more focused on Ben himself but it got carried away with the other characters. :/ ...more
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Worth reading for the beautiful prose, but not as compelling as *The Fifth Child*. Now estranged from his family, Ben falls victim to a series of increasingly tragic deceptions. He's still animal-like but now has a sense of right and wrong. (Maybe it would be better if he didn't.) Ben makes a few kind, compassionate friends along the way, but ultimately the barrage of hardships made for difficult reading. ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Fifth Child was about the mother and what having a ‘profoundly different’ child meant for her as she struggled with her own reactions as well as those of her family. Ben in the World was all about Ben, his needs and wants and challenges and … ultimately … his decisions.

It certainly is clear that Lessing knows that the poor, marginalized, destitute can find one more place at the table, shelter in the inn, while the middle class and rich can’t slam the door shut fast enough.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
15 BOOKS DURING SUMMER OF PREGNANCY - The Fifth Child is one of my top favorite books. Ben, In The World does not reach my top twenty. Although not a horrible book, I was really disappointed with Lessing's lack of focus on Ben. I found Teresa to be the most interesting character in the novel, especially her back-story. I was reminded of the film Run Lola Run because Lessing tried to give us so much story in such small snapshots and then ended them with "their story had a good (or bad) ending." I ...more
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It has been over an year since I read The Fifth Child which instantly became one of the best novels that I was lucky enough to have come across. Unfortunately, at the time I did not know it had a sequel which I discovered only recently.
Lessing is a Blessing.
Her writing is magical. Ben is one of the most interesting characters ever written about. I loved both the books and I think her works make the world a more interesting place to live in.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Decent, but nothing like The Fifth Child. It answered too many of the unknowns that made The Fifth Child so very intriguing
A.E. Reiff
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Compare Ben with Grendel, but it is salacious compared with the poetry of Gardner's work, rather the flesh against the intellect, if not the flesh then the emotion, for Lessing writes of emotion and ethics in a circular fashion that laments the inability to consummate the other. There are many noble things about her, giving the finger to the Nobel Prize committee, caring for her son, having firm purpose of identity, but these don't overcome the weakness of consummation, a British malady, impoten ...more
Matthew Mousseau
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
The Ben of Ben, In the World is not the same as the Ben of The Fifth Child. As a sequel it seems forced and the story would have been better served without the laboured attempts at continuity between these two unalike novels.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goosebumps. It was so sad I couldn’t even cry. I am currently staring at my blank wall with empty eyes.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(copied from BookLikes, because I am feeling a little maudlin. Doris Lessing did much to foster my love of reading, and of wicked women who don't follow the rules.)

I read these books many times, most recently a couple of years ago, but I've never written a review about them. I thought it apropos to do so, on the eve of Doris Lessing's death.

These are both short novels and fast reads, and Lessing is certainly of the school of "don't supply detail unless it drives the story forward", which some p
Lauren Y.
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I agree with the folks who point out that this book doesn't have quite the same finished quality of The Fifth Child: her barbs in the first book were sharp and hit the mark; the barbs here seemed to have been grafted on haphazardly after she came up with the story. It felt as though she was thinking, "ooh, people really liked Ben and having been begging to know what happens to him! I could fire this off real quick-like and bank some coin." Which is odd because 12 years elapsed between the books; ...more
Cathryn Conroy
A word of advice: Read "The Fifth Child" first and then read "Ben, in the World." I wish the two were one book, but they are not. Together, they are brilliant. Separately, "Ben, in the World" is just confusing. Ben is born to a happy, normal family living in London in the '60s and '70s. But Ben is different. Very different. He is some kind of throwback--a primitive man that is only partly human. At age 18, he leaves his family and goes out on his own, and this is where "Ben, in the World" begins ...more
Roberta Morris
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Doris Lessing has done it yet again. While FIFTH CHILD felt a little tired I was prepared to read the sequel -- she being a master storyteller. And with BEN IN THE WORLD she demonstrates her mastery of ancient storytelling with a brilliant insight into contemporary problems, potentials, tragedy that can only occur quite this way just now. It is both beautiful and harrowing, this tale. We tried to get the film rights but of course they'd been snatched up probably before the book was released. It ...more
Gila Gila
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I can't really imagine this novel holding together for anyone who hasn't read The Fifth Child, one of the most harrowing stories any parent could read and hope never to identify with even on the most limited level (a sort of literary, brit-erary Rosemary's Baby Grows Up). Spooked as I was by The Fifth Child, it's undeniably mesmerizing. This follow up is even sadder, Ben on his own without any familial support, without anything but his limited understanding of himself, his brute force and his la ...more
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