Georgia's Reviews > The Grass is Singing

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2009-reads

Not the good time read of the year. In this book it's almost impossible to not pity and despise all of the characters. Set in Rhodesia, this is Doris Lessing's first novel and she pulls from her experience growing up in Africa.

Page 1. Mary Turner has been murdered on the farm where she and her husband Dick live. That's about as pleasant as the book gets. So be warned. Lessing goes back from this gruesome scene to explain how Mary left her pleasant single life working in the city and ended up miserable in the African bush on a farm that is nearly always bankrupt and with a husband who repulses her. Farm and an unhappy marriage drives Mary further and further into herself until she is hardly recognizable.

Lessing has a fairly severe commentary on this time period (40's or 50's I think?) and makes clear judgments on everything from the reasons for marriage to the proper way to farm, but most significantly she critiques the treatment of the native African people by the whites. Absolutely appalling. Even the staunchest bigot would feel a little uneasy reading her commentary on the poor treatment of the farm hands, and the white's assumptions about them.

I'd definitely recommend this book for those who can handle being in a bit of a funk for 200 pages. It's a quick read and a perspective on pre-Apartheid southern Africa. Lessing's psychological mapping of Mary as she deteriorates is intense and chilling.
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Reading Progress

October 16, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
October 26, 2008 – Finished Reading
August 19, 2009 – Shelved as: 2009-reads

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