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Publisher's Summary

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 surge, the Lovatts are certain that their old-fashioned contentment can protect them from the world outside - until the birth of their fifth baby. Gruesomely goblin-like in appearance, insatiably hungry, abnormally strong and violent, Ben has nothing innocent or infant-like about him. As he grows older and more terrifying, Harriet finds she cannot love him, David cannot bring himself to touch him, and their four older children are afraid of him. Understanding that he will never be accepted anywhere, Harriet and David are torn between their instincts as parents and their shocked reaction to this fierce and unlovable child whose existence shatters their belief in a benign world.
©1988 Doris Lessing (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Recorded by arrangement with A.A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
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Customer Reviews

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By Jim "The Impatient" on 05-26-17

60's, English Family Drama

It is hard to review this with out giving the story away. I understand why this was in the Horror Section, but it is not scary. This is a hard story to pigeon hole. It has a very sixties mood, involving a man and a woman, who are not exactly normal to begin with. One of them has rich parents who pays for their house. They decide that they want as many children as possible. The lead female has problems with all of her pregnancies, yet keeps having kids. It seems like people are always coming over and staying with them. Their life is so different from mine, it was hard to relate.

I think anyone who has had an abnormally difficult child and who has worried about their normal children because of this child, might relate. The book also takes a close look at how our society treats those who are different. I did listen to the whole thing, but it is not long. If you get it, just don't expect a horror novel.

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74 of 87 people found this review helpful


By Thomas D. Kim on 06-15-17

A wonderful story about how random chance can wreak havoc

Doris Lessing pens a tale about a couple who, after four perfectly well-behaved children, seemingly out of nowhere parent a loathsome child. Partly a cautionary tale and partly just bad luck, this almost novelette is spare in the details but will give any parent pause, including myself.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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