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The Grandmothers

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,030 ratings  ·  129 reviews
With the four short novels in this collection, Doris Lessing once again proves that she is unequalled in her ability to capture the truth of the human condition.The title story, 'The Grandmothers', is an astonishing tour de force, a shockingly intimate portrait of an unconventional extended family and the lengths to which they will go to find happiness and love. Written wi ...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,352)
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Dolors
Feb 17, 2015 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The beaten yet not defeated
Recommended to Dolors by: Deea
Shelves: read-in-2015
Only the mind of a genius has the capacity to write with the precision, lucidity and provocation displayed in this collection with 85 years of age. Yes, you read that right. Doris Lessing was 85 years old when she penned the four stories that compose this collection. Stories which are dissimilar in length and setting, characters and writing techniques, shifting viewpoint narrators and, believe it or not, genres. Even though the common thread that links these four pieces together appears elusive ...more
Robert
The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing is not, as the dust jacket copy states, a collection of "four short novels." It's a bound volume containing three long short stories and a concluding novella, "A Love Child." And with one exception, it's very, very good.

The opening story, "The Grandmothers," is a mischievous but persuasive piece of wickedness in which two close friends end up being the lovers of each other's sons. There's a cosy quality to this pseudo-Oedipal tale that envelops the sons totally.
...more
Laila
Jun 18, 2008 Laila rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kelly, Elizabeth
I can't remember what made me pick this book up, but I'm glad I did. It consists of four novellas, not linked together in any way. The first one (The Grandmothers) was my favorite. Lessing has a real knack for exploring the complexity of the human heart and I was intensely interested in these flawed and sympathetic characters. The one story that didn't work for me was the third one. I appreciated it intellectually but I couldn't emotionally connect. It was set in an ancient community where the w ...more
Maria Ivona
I recently watched the movie adaptation of The Grandmothers. The film is entitled Adore, starring Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, James Frecheville and Xavier Samuel (who is super hot by the way). I thought that the story is really something! It's disturbing and provocative... and although I feel like it's too absurd to be true, the plot is somewhat convincing/awakening. It makes you realize that although love can be in various forms...most of the time, we can only express love in a way that is accep ...more
notgettingenough
We used to run book auctions and one day a man left a bid on a volume of Doris Lessing's autobiography. Before the auction started, he called to retract it. He'd found out something about her in the meantime and decided she was so awful he would never read the book.

I must say, the title story of this book does nothing to soften that impression. The characters are ghastly, the writing style matches. Somehow it does not reflect well upon the author.

This is the first Lessing I have tried and I susp
...more
arcobaleno
Le nonne – Victoria e gli Staveney – Il figlio dell’amore
Tre racconti, di cui l’ultimo, Il figlio dell’amore, risulta il più completo, il più intenso, il più articolato. I primi due non mi hanno entusiasmato: mi sembrava spesso che i pensieri rimanessero in superficie e le azioni incompiute. Come fossero degli abbozzi rimasti tali (per fretta, incuria, stanchezza, pigrizia…??).
La Lessing, scrittrice oggi ultranovantenne, si è cimentata in ogni genere letterario ed è stata molto prolifica. Questi
...more
Stela

All the reviews on Doris Lessing’s The Grandmothers I’ve read claim that the book is oddly uneven, with two brilliant and two poor stories. All of them put A love child on top, followed by Victoria and the Staveneys and they generally agree that The Grandmothers and The Reason of It are the worst.

Well, I beg to differ. As usual, Doris Lessing is a master of the literary techniques and the unity of The Grandmothers is realized by subtle but strong links between themes, motives, narrative perspec
...more
Cathy
Feb 15, 2014 Cathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book by Doris Lessing, The Grandmothers, actually consists of four novellas. The first, The Grandmothers, is about two close friends who fall in love with each other's teenage sons. The love affairs actually last for many years until one of the women, Roz, decides it's time to put a stop to them. She believes the sons should get married, have children and move on with their lives. The women take on the role of respectable grandmothers until Tom's wife discovers letters between the lovers; s ...more
Bastet
Lo primero que me ha llamado la atención de esta recopilación de cuentos es la riqueza de registros de la que hace gala Doris Lessing, lo que demuestra que tiene cosas que contar y no se ciñe a un mismo tema del que da diferentes versiones.

Desde que terminé el relato que da título al volumen Las abuelas, no dejo de darle vueltas. Los silencios cerriles, esas miradas que son como radiografías, importan tanto o más que las palabras. Doris Lessing maneja estupendamente ese recurso. En Las abuelas,
...more
Maria Grazia
Tre lunghi racconti sull'amore. Un amore che parte normale, quasi banale, e finisce in una sorta di perversione ancora più sconvolgente proprio perché ammantata di normalità.
Dei tre racconti quello più intenso è il terzo "Il figlio dell'amore", che è quasi un romanzo a se stante nel suo sviluppo, e che termina in maniera assolutamente agghiacciante.
kaire
أحيانا ً يراودني شعور أن شراء بطيخه أفضل من شراء بعض الكتب
Tasha
I'm not even finished yet but I really love Doris Lessing's style...it's like this prude British fuddy-duddy dancing-around-the-truth stuck up writing about some really salacious shit and it makes you fill in your own blanks. It takes ages and ages in The Grandmothers for her to actually write that "lovemaking" happens between the older women and their swapped sons, and even then it feels like that's not a hard enough word for what's going on. This is some dark shit written in a PG newspaper fri ...more
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
I haven’t read many of Doris Lessing’s books for the simple reason that one can’t read everything. There are just far too many good books out there. I did like the “Lessing novels” I did read, though, especially The Grass Is Singing, and I’ve had The Grandmothers on my bookshelf for several years now, just waiting to be read.

Though Lessing was already well into her eighties when she wrote the four novellas (some call them short stories, but I call them novellas) that comprise The Grandmothers, t
...more
Sheila
I’m still trying to work out how long a piece of writing has to be if it’s called a novel. The Grandmothers is a set of four “short novels,” according to its cover. But how is that different from four novellas?

The first, and title, story is an intriguing family tale of just 53 pages. Two fathers. Two daughters. Two grandmothers. And two mothers who enter only peripherally into visits to a seaside restaurant. The waitress envies their perfect lives, which maybe aren’t as perfect as they seem, and
...more
Moises Sheinberg
Las abuelas es uno de los últimos libros que ha escrito la inglesa (aunque nacida en Persia) Doris Lessing, premio Nóbel de literatura 2007.
El libro está compuesto por cuatro nouvelles o novelas cortas que representan en buena parte todos los aspectos de la literatura de Lessing.
La primera historia “Las abuelas” comienza de una forma un poco confusa cuando una mesera ve a una familia sentada en la playa: Dos mujeres mayores, dos hombres jóvenes y dos niñas aparentemente felices. De repente llega
...more
Pauline
The first of the four short stories The Grandmothers,two close friends fall in love with each others sons. They seem to live in a kind of hazy oblivion,protected by wealth and beauty. It was beautifully written but where was the drama,the soul searching and torment of living on the "outside". It does however come to a rather predictable conclusion and smidgen of reality intrudes. The second was about a poor black child who mainly because of her beauty is taken in by privileged white people who b ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Fans of Lessing will find her trademark themes, times, and places in The Grandmothers. In these stories, as in her previous novels and memoirs, Lessing successfully captures the joy and pain of the human condition. This collection, coming from a writer nearing the end of her career, is impressive but uneven. Readers will find four very different and appealing narratives, from a surprising story about parental relationships to a dark comedy about social inequalities. Critics generally agree that

...more
Mollie
Nov 08, 2014 Mollie marked it as to-read
I saw this movie on Netflix (Adore 2013) and I plan on reading the book to get more insight because OMG! What did I just watch? And I thought I had seen it all! Just...whoa!!
Eveletta
To me I did NOT like!!!
I expected more from the book, since had won so many awards.
The characters do not transmit anything. The writing is basic. The story runs away and give no account of how it happened a lot of things (eg... how did Ian married Hannah if he wanted both Roz??)
Terrible. The story had potential to be a masterpiece... and stayed in a miserable and malformed story.

//////////////////////////////

A mí, la verdad, no me gustó.
Podrá haber ganado todos los premios que quiera, pero el re
...more
Kim Trusty
Should probably admit that I didn't read all of the novellas, just 'The Grandmothers" which was published separately as "Adore" (to tie in with the movie). An interesting and somewhat controversial topic that is presented in a rather matter of fact, so what?, shrug of the shoulders manner by Lessing that by the end I wasn't sure where I stood. The writing is very fine however, of that I'm very sure. Others could stretch this out into a very long novel but 70 pages was absolutely perfect.
James F
Four short novels (I guess they could be called novellas or novelettes, something longer than short stories anyway) published as a single book.

The first, the title story, "The Grandmothers", was a strange bit of psychology, not really up to her usual standards; the third, "The Reason For It", is an allegorical tale about a mythical country and its leaders, which was good but not outstanding.

The second story, "Victoria and the Staveneys", and even more so the fourth and longest, "A Love Child",
...more
Jas
I enjoyed "Adoration" (or "The Grandmothers" depending on which volume you've started) at first, although I lost interest in the final novella, "A Love Child". The first story is quite cheeky and slightly disturbing at times, which makes the reader feel insanely voyeuristic but I got over that fairly quickly. All up, it was an enjoyable read. The second story I found quite boring, but all the same, Lessing's writing style kept me reading. The third, an unusual dystopia, I really enjoyed. I don't ...more
Rachel
Wish Goodreads would let me give this book 4.5 stars.... A really brilliant collection of novellas, each very different from the last, but all well-written. I lost interest a little in the fourth story, but the last few pages, particularly the last few lines made me want to give the whole book 5 stars. I really want to read more of this author's work!
comfort
A very unconventional love story.

Two (female)childhood friends growing up together, stay friends throughout their lives. Through jobs, marriages,divorce, death of a spouse and children.

Then the unthinkable happens and these two 30 something women begin to have affairs with each others teenage sons. At first neither couple are aware of what is happening with the other couple, then it becomes obvious.

These love stories continue for years and years, when the sons bow to pressure and get married to
...more
Donna
Four short novels in one book. Book title, "The Grandmothers," was the first story in the book. Two friends fall in love with each other's teenage sons. And still stayed friends and shared time together. That was too unusual to be believe! Not sure why I continued with the book after that, but the second story was more interesting, life of a mixed-race girl. After reading three pages of the third story, I moved on to the last one and it held my interest somewhat; life of a WWII soldier. This was ...more
Gabriela Magalhães
Leitura fácil e muita rápida, história bem surpreendente! Vale a leitura!
Nadezda Kolokolova
В русскоязычном издании книга называется "Бабушки" по названию первой новеллы в сборнике.
Эта книга включает в себя такие произведения,как "Бабушки","Виктория и Стэйвни","Почему так" и "Дитя любви".
Каждая новелла затрагивает душевные струны автора, яростной противницы жестокого отношения к женщинам и темнокожим людям. Дорис Лессинг рассказывает "страшные" истории, исполненные страдания матери или отца по своему ребенку, мудрого старца по утраченным знаниям и беспечности молодого поколения, об ужа
...more
Karen
I thought all four of the short novels were well written and interesting.

The first, The Grandmothers, held my interest the best, dealing with inappropriate relationships in a laid-back seaside town.

The seemingly perfect family in the second, the Stavenys, were a lot like the Chalfins in White Teeth. An affluent, white, liberal family whose behavior when interacting with the main character, Victoria, caused me to cringe constantly especially when they refer to her skin color and the skin color
...more
Daniela Benedetti
Ho letto questo libro dopo avere visto il trailer del film di cui vi parlerò tra qualche riga: le immagini mi hanno catturata e appena ho capito che l'opera era derivata da un romanzo mi sono subito messa alla ricerca, ho trovato il libro, l'ho letto e sono - ahimè - rimasta un po' sconcertata. Mi spiego.
I tre racconti, come potete leggere dalle trame ufficiali (che utilizzo stando sempre molto attenta a ridurre gli spoiler), narrano di persone la cui esistenza è permeata da una sorta di triste
...more
Kelli
The Grandmothers is made up of 4 novellas that cover 4 quite different stories. I really enjoyed 3 of them, while I thought the other was less successful (guess which below!)

The Grandmothers: this tale of 2 women who have affairs with each others sons - starting when the men are teenagers and continuing for about 20 years after - held my attention for the entire story. Starting in current time, it then went back 20 years and followed the relationships through to current time once more. I felt I
...more
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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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“She thought secretly that there is no more dangerous item in the world than a pretty young woman on the loose. Luckily, the older woman thought, when we are girls we don’t know that we are like sticks of dynamite or like fireworks in a box too close to a fire.” 0 likes
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