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Doris Lessing was one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her novels include The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist. In 2001, Lessing was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in British literature. In 2008, The Times ranked her fifth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". She died in 2013.
More casually written and organized than the superb Under My Skin, this second volume of Lessing's memoirs contains acute, brutally frank comments on topics from book publishing to left-wing activism. She opens with her arrival in London four years after the end of WWII. A 30-year-old single mother with a two-year-old son, Lessing left Southern Rhodesia in search of a place and a means to write freely. Chapters are named for the locations in which she lived‘Denbigh Road, Church Street, Warwick Road, Langham Street‘and her narrative is similarly episodic. She covers her love affairs, years of psychotherapy, her increasingly disenchanted involvement with the Communist Party, the books she was writing, though she also interpolates musings on current topics (modern book promotion, the yuppification of London). Lessing is reticent about emotions: those who want to know what this period in her life felt like should read The Golden Notebook, whose genesis is discussed here with disappointing brevity. A virtual Who's Who of British culture make appearances‘historian E.P. Thompson, playwrights Arnold Wesker and John Osborne, theater critic Kenneth Tynan, philosopher Bertrand Russell, to name a few‘but some of the most evocative portraits limn unknowns and relatives. (Lessing's unflinching assessment of her mother's final years is especially notable.) The author isn't capable of being boring, but this rambling chronicle is a disappointment. Photos. (Oct.)
'Funny and heartbreaking... every word rings true.' Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year 'It is exhilarating to read. Not many lives are worth more than two long volumes, but Doris Lessing's most certainly is.' Literary Review
A follow-up to Lessing's acclaimed memoir, Under My Skin (LJ 10/1/94), this volume covers the years when she wrote The Golden Notebook.