I read this book in two brief sittings, and it's hard to define or place neatly into a category. It's also the first book I've read from author, Doris Lessing. The story is that of Harriet and David Lovatt, which begins with their brief courtship and marriage in the late 1960s in England. They are both alike in that they don't want to take part in the societal changes taking place all around them. They have old-fashioned values and want nothing more than to create a life together complete with lots and lots of children. They buy a huge house in the country and begin right away on their family. Much to the chagrin of their family and friends, they continue to have children one right after the other to the detriment of Harriet's health and their economic situation. However much everyone around them disapproves, they are happy and plan to continue their lifestyle even if that means that David's father must help support them.
Everything is just as they had planned until Harriet finds herself pregnant with her fifth child. From the beginning of this pregnancy, nothing seems right. She gets huge right away and the baby seems as if it is trying to claw its way out of her. She is absolutely miserable until the baby is born. But right away, Harriet knows that something is not right with this child whom they name Ben.
I don't want to say much more for fear of spoiling the experience of reading this. I'll just say that Harriet is forced to make a decision that no mother would ever want to make. As a mother, I found myself wondering what I would do in her situation. There are no easy answers or nice tidy endings here. Because I haven't read anything else by this author, I don't know if this is typical of her work or not. But, based on this book, I'll definitely seek out some of her other books. The only real problem I had with the book is the fact that I felt like I never really got to know most of the characters in the book, except for Harriet. I know that the story centers around her and her decision about Ben and how it affects the family, but I would have liked to have been able to get to know David and some of the other family members a little better. However, that's just a minor quibble with an otherwise amazing book, and I recommend it highly.
This is a short book, at only 133 pages and would probably fit the bill for Carl's RIP III challenge. I know I really shouldn't join the challenge, but I'm going to. I've done a decent job with challenges this year, but I may not finish all of them. But, this one is just too fun to pass up. I'll be posting my list hopefully later today or tomorrow.