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From Doris Lessing, "one of the most important writers of the past hundred years" (Times of London), comes a brilliant, darkly provocative alternative history of humankind’s beginnings.

In the last years of his life, a Roman senator embarks on one final epic endeavor, a retelling of the history of human creation. The story he relates is the little-known saga of the Clefts, an ancient community of women with no knowledge of nor need for men. Childbirth was controlled through the cycles of the moon, and only female offspring were born—until the unanticipated event that jeopardized the harmony of their close-knit society: the strange, unheralded birth of a boy.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061868269
List price: $10.99
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This was the first book I've read from the author. It was a bad choice. The idea of the book was really promising, an ancient community where only women exist and the effects of male children being born. Although there were some interesting insight of male and female differences, the story was boring, unoriginal, depressing. The narrative story which was going on in between was completely unnecessary. Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007 and came across as a very interesting person in the interview, which was shown after the award winner was announced. I'm hoping to read some of her other books, which are highly acclaimed, but this was a very unfortunate introduction to her work.read more
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Hated the book because I hated the narrartor. He repeats himself endlessly and with such a bias it made me unable to read it. I tried to skip around hoping it would get to a point where I could read more but never found that point. Even at the end he was repeating things he'd said early on. Ugh.read more
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A fascinating idea that is not fully realized. I was disappointed in how such an interesting theory-- that humans were originally only female-- ended up as a story that relied predominantly on stereotypes, and mainly the cliched stereotypes of bad jokes on marriage (think "men get lost but won't admit being lost;" "women are incessant nags"). Perhaps that's meant to be assumed as the rendering through the biased eyes of our male Roman historian narrator. If it is, the narrative device fails the idea behind the novel. Lessing is a good writer, even here the story has a good flow to it, but I had to make myself finish this relatively short book, and it took me longer than to read than good books twice its length.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

This was the first book I've read from the author. It was a bad choice. The idea of the book was really promising, an ancient community where only women exist and the effects of male children being born. Although there were some interesting insight of male and female differences, the story was boring, unoriginal, depressing. The narrative story which was going on in between was completely unnecessary. Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007 and came across as a very interesting person in the interview, which was shown after the award winner was announced. I'm hoping to read some of her other books, which are highly acclaimed, but this was a very unfortunate introduction to her work.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Hated the book because I hated the narrartor. He repeats himself endlessly and with such a bias it made me unable to read it. I tried to skip around hoping it would get to a point where I could read more but never found that point. Even at the end he was repeating things he'd said early on. Ugh.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A fascinating idea that is not fully realized. I was disappointed in how such an interesting theory-- that humans were originally only female-- ended up as a story that relied predominantly on stereotypes, and mainly the cliched stereotypes of bad jokes on marriage (think "men get lost but won't admit being lost;" "women are incessant nags"). Perhaps that's meant to be assumed as the rendering through the biased eyes of our male Roman historian narrator. If it is, the narrative device fails the idea behind the novel. Lessing is a good writer, even here the story has a good flow to it, but I had to make myself finish this relatively short book, and it took me longer than to read than good books twice its length.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I was really excited to read this book. It was like nothing I've ever come across before. The story was told fantastically, but still...I was left wanting more. It seemed we all knew where this story was going....maybe that's why in the end I didn't are for it too much.
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This is a book about the origin of men and women differences. More than a novel this book narrates a legend and it a very creative way suggests an explanation of men and women's thoughts on children, sex, interests, roles, and some other issues.
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A nightmarish tale about human creation where women are called "clefts" and men are called "monsters" or "squirts". Male babies are sacrificed for years until some eagles decide to save the "monster" babies and to take them to another part of the island they all share..where they grow up to be "squirts". When the Clefts learn of this, they wander over and thus begins the story of how the human race began. Add animals that feed the babies, genital mutilation, and depictions of rape and murder and you have The Cleft. It was almost unbearable for me to read it. Crude and not well written. I would give it half a star if I could figure out how to do so
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