Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child

For some naïve reason, I always associated horror with Stephen King, and him only. When I picked up Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child I did not know that it would turn out to be such a terrifying read.

The book is about Harriet and David Lovatt, an ordinary couple, whose ultimate aim in life is to just have an old-fashioned big and happy family. Their dreams are fulfilled to some extent as they seem to climb the ladder of familial success – having four beautiful children, and hosting large gatherings at their unusually enormous house. Everything seems to be going well… And here comes the dreaded but – the Lovatts’ fifth child is born, and their lives change drastically, taking a dreaded turn they never would have imagined. The book is really small, so it doesn’t make sense to say anything more.

Lessing scares you through a tool that we don’t see used very often – the this-could-happen-to-you tool. I’d strongly recommend pregnant women, or would-be parents to stay away from the book. Even otherwise, the effects of narration and story would stay with you – I know it’ll stay with me. But we won’t give up reading literature just because it showcases fearful or tragic things now, would we?

The short length of the book is a definite advantage, but Lessing does not divide the book into chapters, which might make it tough(er) to read. It’s a breeze of a read otherwise – especially since you want to know what happens. I’d ask you to read this book just to see another view of horror in fiction.

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4 Responses to Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child

  1. Tachyoson says:

    cool, you really ARE prolific…. i mostly let my blogspot dust… cos i cant think of enough things to write!

    i WILL put this on my 3rd TO READ list
    after

    1- Weight Loss – Upamanyu Chatterjee
    2 – Kite Runner – Hosseini.
    3.- FIfth Child – Doris Lessing.

    is it as bad as Exorcist + Alien + The SHining ?

    POIGON PRINCE

  2. Sampada says:

    Prolific? Not even close. 😛

    I don’t think it’s anything like the horror fiction you’ve mentioned. Just read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

  3. Ashwin says:

    yay, she writes again.. 🙂

  4. Sampada says:

    Hello, Ashwin. Feels like old times… 🙂

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