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A Ripple from the Storm

(Children of Violence #3)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  578 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Martha Quest, the embodied heroine of the Children of Violence series, has been acclaimed as one of the greatest fictional creations in the English language. In a Ripple from the Storm, Doris Lessing charts Martha Quest's personal and political adventures in race-torn British Africa, following Martha through World War II, a grotesque second marriage, and an excursion into ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Harper Perennial (first published 1958)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, zimbabwe
The third of the Children of Violence novels turns its attention directly to the process of political action, something that's been a running theme since the start but which now lurches sluggishly centre-stage. Unfortunately, the idea that leftwing activism can get bogged down in subcommittees, ideological theorising and petty infighting is now so well understood as hardly to need saying, let alone to need the kind of close, unblinking, beat-by-beat analysis that Doris Lessing brings to all her ...more
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The third book in Martha Quest's story is best read after the foregoing instalments. Here there is a shift in subject matter; previously Martha's political activities were not a dominant part of her life, and she engaged in them alongside other preoccupations. Here all the action is political activity, and the personal lives of the characters are subsumed in it rather than the reverse. The energies and characters of Martha and everyone else is enmeshed in a political epic taking place at all sca ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Approximately, 1984 redone as a colonial-era comedy of manners. As we know from Orwell, it was a bit difficult during World War II to keep track of what you were supposed to think of the Soviet Union. Here, Doris Lessing describes a bunch of very amateurish Communists, who are stuck in what was then Rhodesia, watching the action from the sidelines. At first, they are ostracized for supporting the Soviet Union. But Germany attacks the Russians, Stalin is suddenly our friend, and the Rhodesian Com ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it

This one was amusing. The meetings and busywork that appeared to change nothing made me chuckle for awhile, then became tedious. The POV changes allowed other characters to liven up the story as by this time Martha becomes less interesting. Political activism can be a sideshow. Few people are savvy enough to have any lasting impact.

On a different note, I've heard that Marxism is capable of gaining fervent followers because it is able to replace that need for religion in society. The Communist p
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Doris Lessing fans, women

This is the third volume in Doris Lessing's "Children of Violence" series. I believe these novels are considered highly autobiographical and are meant to show a young woman trying to find herself as she moves out of her middle-class South African/English upbringing.

The first novel in the series, Martha Quest, shows her breaking away from the family to go live and work in the city. At the end of that one, Martha impulsively marries the first man who asks her. In the second, A Proper Marriage, Mar
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Martha is not the female hero that you may be looking for. These Marta Quest novels should be seen as a woman's search for identity and especially this third volume mostly focuses on confessions of the political history of the 20th century. ...more
Where the second book in the Children of Violence series focused heavily on Martha Quest's young marriage and the birth of her daughter, this third book finds her in an entirely new set of circumstances. (view spoiler) In this installment Martha's interests lie more in her politics and her beliefs rather than ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Martha Quest, the heroine of Doris Lessing's Children of Violence series, continues to be a casualty of circumstances as she lets life happen to her. Her relationship with her parents and absurd relationship with her husband point to her failure to choose from a strong heart what she should do and how she should love. She does not appreciate that her life is hers to make. How can she after so many years of her mother's emotional abuse and belittling ways? She defines herself according to her mot ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Huh, just noticed I never wrote a review for this book. Which is funny, because I've been so good at reviewing everything this year. I agree with Manny there that it is one of the best books of the series. "A Proper Marriage" and "Landlocked" feel almost transitional compared to the other three. The most memorable portion for me is the scene with the sick British pilot who wanders off-base and goes mad in the brush. Otherwise, this one is very much dominated by communism and Martha's awful secon ...more
Jennifer Rolfe
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Ripple from The Storm is an attempt to describe the psychology of the group organised against society, the psychology of the individual in an individualistic society trying to behave as 'communal man.' By the end of the book it is apparent that the group has failed. The characters in this were so well portrayed. Lessing beautifully analyzed a group of disparate people coming together for a common cause but their different backgrounds, class, experiences made the task impossible. Great! Am re-r ...more
Gustavo Vazquez
May 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
After two magnificient books, the third in the Children of Violence series is very low-down. While the others deal with a broad range of questions, this one is very political-oriented. It deals mostly with the problems of a small communist party on the fictional country of South Rodesia that is, to be frank, not even remotely efficient and from which the character of Martha Quest is just a small part. On the plus side, you have a very rich account of colonization and the communist mind before th ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Lessing, uh, is intense. I feel somewhat embarrassed I am getting through the Children of Violence series out of order, as I'm getting the impression this is a Big and Important Series that ought to be tackled in the order the author accomplished it (notwithstanding the publisher's disclaimer to the contrary).

But seriously: This is a really important author. And what she's written is intense.
Laura Conrad
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the one that really makes me reread the series -- it's so good about marxist politics.

Vel Veeter
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the third book in the Doris Lessing series “The Children of Violence” which are her semi-autobiographical novels about Martha Quest, initially a young woman living on a farm in Rhodesia who confronts her mostly unambitious family and seeks to run away in the first book, he marries and confronts her immediate regret about conforming to patriarchal culture of young marriage in the second book, and who now finds herself in the midst of a political and intellectual awakening among the Commun ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I do love Doris Lessing’s writing, but found it hard to get through the futility that, while it seems to suffuse all of her novels I’ve read to philosophically interesting ends, reached a level of second-hand anxiety that forced me to take a break in the middle. Coming back to it, though, I was renewed in my appreciation for her ability to build interestingly flawed characters in a complex and problematic societal setting.
Rod Hunt
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
After a gap of more than 20 years I have returned to the Children of Violence series. I enjoyed the relentless meetings, situational analysis and party discipline immensely. Martha remains annoying but Lessing bluntly presents numerous conflicts she must negotiate. Can’t wait to read Landlocked next.
Laura Anne
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as the first two, but the next one Landlocked is back on form.
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The third book of the Children of Violence series. This book focuses on politics; the protagonist is part of a small communist group which grandiloquently calls itself the Communist Party of Zambesia. Lessing understands the absurdity of this group, on two levels: first, as the participants themselves understand, but try hard to ignore, the absurdity of a small group of middle-class whites forming a communist party in a country where the working class is entirely black, and where whites have no ...more
Jun 14, 2014 added it
I'm holding off on rating any more books from the Children of VIolence series until I've finished all five, that way I can judge the project as a whole. Overall, I'm a huge Lessing fan and was impressed by the first two installments, but this one doesn't stand so well on its own; it reads as more of an appendix to the second book (A Proper Marriage), and perhaps Lessing would have been better off incorporating the commentary she seems to be making about (white) leftist politics in colonial south ...more
Gina Schwartz
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is a prize winning novel but yet still I did not like it. Maybe I missed something. Should I re-read?
Jocelyn Duffort
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I picked this up from the Bicherbus - the local book mobile here in Luxembourg. I've read about everything on their two English shelves! Unfortunately I found out after starting it that it's the third in a 5 book series. Oh, well, I read it anyway.
It takes place in South Africa during WWII. It's about a group of young communists and their ideals and activities. I seem to be stumbling onto a lot of books lately that deal with the topic of communism in one form or another. It was interesting to s
Moxie Marlinspike
Aug 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
After seeing the clip of Doris Lessing greeting reporters who informer her that she'd just won the Nobel Prize, I decided that I had to read something by her. It could be that I didn't get this because it's mid-way through a series, but otherwise this is perhaps the most boring novel I've ever tried to read. The bulk of the text is spent describing the intricacies and dull details of a Communist group in South Africa play-acting at revolution during WWII. It's really really slow. ...more
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nobel-winners
The book focuses mostly on Marha's participation in the local communist movement, which is a rather funny mixture of passionate devotion and lack of direction.
Martha's personal journey is interesting in her attempt to be the "perfect communist" without any weaknesses. This is a common goal to her whole communist group and as the social situation around them changes, their personal feeling begin to surfice more and more whether they want them or not.
Keith Rose
Martha gets involved in the all consuming world of the local Communist Party. The meeting scenes and the manoeuvering sound like reportage. I was struck by their millenial fervour - they all think that revolution will spread round the world in the wake of the second world war and therefore there's no point planning more than a few years ahead. Yet they're as ignorant of the local African population as they are of actual conditions under Stalin. ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I've got to admit I plodded through this just because I'd made a commitment to the series and the characters.

A great personal reminder of how childishly impatient I used to get with SDS committee meetings.
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it
It hurts to give this 3, but the drop off was apparent. There are maybe 20 pages of the magic that made every page of the first two so special. I only care about Martha and Maisie's problems!

Also, these white people!
Aug 04, 2012 added it
Shelves: fiction
The ongoing saga of Martha Quest and her comrades in Southern Africa circa 1945. Marriage, interracial politics in a colonial small town, and intergenerational family life all at issue. Lessing's a master at describing non-verbal communication. ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it

Not my favorite in The Children of Violence series, but the ending was good. Martha appears to still be deep in her quest, even if she feels a bit beaten. The first three novels together are amazing.
Linda Yiannakis
Doris Lessing is an incredible writer. She takes you on a journey, and along the way brings out the details of sight, sound, and sensation that are part of our lives, but are often glossed over in favor of internal dialogue or action.
Cathy Hurt
Jul 06, 2010 rated it liked it
At first I wasn't that into the book, and it was kind of slow, but in the end it made me curious about the rest of the series. I'll probably read the first book in the series, anyway. ...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

Other books in the series

Children of Violence (5 books)
  • Martha Quest
  • A Proper Marriage
  • Landlocked
  • The Four-Gated City (Children of Violence, #5)

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