Frances Lennox ladles out dinner every night to the motley, exuberant, youthful crew assembled around her hospitable tableher two sons and their friends, girlfriends, ex-friends, and ftesh-off-the-street friends. It's the early 1960s and certainly "everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Except financial circumstances demand that Frances and her sons Eve with her proper ex-mother-in-law. And her ex-husband, Comrade Johnny, has just dumped his second wife's problem child at Frances's feet. And the world's political landscape has suddenly become surreal beyond imagination....
Set against the backdrop of the decade that changed the world forever, The Sweetest Dream is a riveting look at a group of people who dared to dream-and faced the inevitable cleanup afterward -- from one of the greatest writers of our time.
So she holds in my life the position of a sort of mentor. The Girl Scout Guide to rad feminine life. Though she was never quite so simpatico as many others of my heroes.
And then we come to The Sweetest Dream, an odd novel that is prefaced by her disclosure that she shall not write the 3rd volume of her autobiography (because it would cause harm to others still living), but that...in this novel, she hopes to reveal the truth about the 1960's. And so on.
Well, okay then, I'm up for it. I lived through the 1960's, eagerly reading her novels. Of course, I was not in England, and possibly the whole grand dream was different there. I had forgotten how very lacking in a sense of humor Lessing is, how ponderously she loathes the communists (with all the fervour that a fallen away Catholic devotes to the evils of the Papacy), and how she does go on and on and on and on and on and on about the Terrible Failings of Everyone Else.
I suppose a Nobel prize winning novelist is too daunting to be seriously edited? Because I would have slashed this book to ribbons. There is an interesting sub-novel, in the African section, but even that has that ponderous falsity.
And the heroes and villains are set sternly in place from the start, with little cardboard traits and no real sense of...anyone. It is a shadow play, all of it (with the possible exception of the more complex character of Julia).
The best part? A novel in which the house is a main character!read more