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The Grass Is Singing [Paperback]

Doris Lessing
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 April 2002 Paladin Books

The classic first novel from the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007.

Doris Lessing brought the manuscript of ‘The Grass is Singing’ with her when she left Southern Rhodesia and came to England in 1950. When it was first published it created an impact whose reverberations we are still feeling, and immediately established itself as a landmark in twentieth-century literature.

Set in Rhodesia, it tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer and his wife, Mary, a town girl who hates the bush. Trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny brick and iron house, Mary, lonely and frightened, turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding.

A masterpiece of realism, ‘The Grass is Singing’ is a superb evocation of Africa’s majestic beauty, an intense psychological portrait of lives in confusion and, most of all, a passionate exploration of the ideology of white supremacy.



Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Paladin; Re-issue edition (15 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586089241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586089248
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 236,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007, is one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of recent decades. A Companion of Honour and a Companion of Literature, she has been awarded the David Cohen Memorial Prize for British Literature, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize, the International Catalunya Award and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a
Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature, as well as a host of other international awards.
Doris Lessing died on 17 November 2013.

Product Description

Review

‘Original and striking…full of those terrifying touches of truth, seldom mentioned but instantly recognised.’ New Statesman

‘Doris Lessing responds more passionately than most writers to people or situations: often she responds with hate or rancour, but always with passion. In “The Grass is Singing”, you can feel the dynamo-like throb of a formidable talent; by its side, most novels of 1950 look like crochet-work.’ The Times

‘“The Grass is Singing” focuses on the blighted life of a woman whose spirit is destroyed by a disastrous marriage and by an environment to which she couldn’t respond. More than any other white African writer of her generation, Doris Lessing is aware of the seductive cruelty of colonialism, and is one of our strongest, fiercest voices against injustice, racism and sexual hypocrisy.’ Independent on Sunday

From the Back Cover

Doris Lessing brought the manuscript of 'The Grass is Singing', her classic first novel, with her when she left Southern Rhodesia and came to England in 1950. When it was first published it created an impact whose reverberations we are still feeling, and immediately established itself as a landmark in twentieth-century literature.

Set in Rhodesia, it tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer and his wife, Mary, a town girl who hates the bush. Trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny brick and iron house, Mary, lonely and frightened, turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding.

A masterpiece of realism, 'The Grass is Singing' is a superb evocation of Africa's majestic beauty, an intense psychological portrait of lives in confusion and, most of all, a passionate explanation of the ideology of white supremacy.

"Original and striking… full of those terrifying touches of truth, seldom mentioned but instantly recognised."
NEW STATESMAN

"Doris Lessing responds more passionately than most writers to people or situations: often she responds with hate or rancour, but always with passion. In 'The Grass is Singing', you can feel the dynamo-like throb of a formidable talent: by its side, most novels of 1950 looked like crochet-work."
THE TIMES

"' The Grass is Singing' focuses on the blighted life of a woman whose spirit is destroyed by a disastrous marriage and by an environment to which she couldn't respond. More than any other white African writer of her generation, Doris Lessing is aware of the seductive cruelty of colonialism and is one of our strongest, fiercest voices against injustice, racism and sexual hypocrisy."
FIAMMETTA ROCCO, ' Independent on Sunday'


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and striking 27 Jan 2004
By HORAK
Format:Paperback
Doris Lessing's "The Grass is Singing" opens with the death of Mary Turner. How could Mary's life have ended with such a tragic fate? As the reader progresses through the novel, he discovers Mary's insufferable existence, her life destroyed by a disastrous marriage to a farmer, Dick Turner. Mary is forced to live in a rural environment in South Africa for which she is ill-suited. Furthermore, Mary's relationship with her husband rapidly deteriorates as she realises that Dick is unable to manage the farm successfully and they are constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. A truly superb novel, tragic and moving to the very last line. Mrs Lessing's wonderfully captures Africa's majestic beauty, the difficult relationship between the whites and the Natives. The psychological portrait of her heroine is exceptionally intense.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy, but relentlessly grim 17 Jan 2013
By R. A. Davison TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Grass Is Singing is the debut novel of Nobel Prize for literature winning Doris Lessing, set in Southern Rhodesia, where Lessing was born, there is a deliberate attempt to make the area represent all South Africa as a whole.

I've always had a "thing" for Africa and always enjoy finding novels set in the continent. This particular novel is the story of Mary Turner, and begins with reports of her murder, from there it traces Mary's story from her childhood to her untimely demise.

On one level The Grass Is Singing is interesting from the point of view of how much Lessing used autobiographical content, I wondered if the young Mary freed from her parents by education represented young Doris whereas the older frustrated farmers wife Mary who wishes for a less impoverished lifestyle represented her mother Emily, and essentially the fear, which is sadly realised for Mary, of "ending up just like her mother".

The other level is the examination of Apartheid society, and the shocking yet entirely acceptable in its day, bigotry and racism, it's quite eye-popping.

Doris Lessing is someone who "I've been trying to get along with" for some time, because someone I admire is a great fan, but this is the third book of hers I have now read with four others yet to go on my Book Mountain and I still haven't clicked with her.

My problem with The Grass Is Singing in the end is how grim it is. A relentlessly depressing, hopeless sinking of a woman who married because she felt like she had to. It's very well written of course, but not really the kind of novel one reads for enjoyment, and instead "an issues based thing" which are nevertheless good to read from time to time for the point of being cultured, but many novelists manage to both make you think and enjoy the plot and this doesn't do that really.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark and moody drama - compelling. 16 April 2003
Format:Paperback
Not my first Doris Lessing but I think the best so far. This, her first novel, brilliantly conveys the theme of a doomed and mutually destructive relationship. Mary and Dick spend the novel systematically destroying each other and their descent into insanity and oblivion, respectively, is superbly charted. Not for everyone certainly, but if you can cope with a disturbing and psychologically challenging onslaught of a narrative then give it a try.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful novel of poor whites in 1950's Rhodesia 27 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
From the opening pages this novel grabs and holds your interest - much like the opening pages of 'Enduring Love' (Ian McEwan).You are told the end at the beginning. Later the book takes you through the steps leading to the awful conclusion. The tension is held superbly right through the novel, added to this the descriptions of the sunbaked, barely fertile ground, on the poor white farm and the relationship of the couple who own it to each other and their black native servants are graphically very strong. The relentless heat intensity is truly unbearable. All this set in the rigid insular white farming society of 1950's Rhodesia. Chosen by our Book Club - I will certainly be reading more Doris Lessing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The Grass Is Singing was my first Doris Lessing novel, and I loved it!
As you could have already read the synospsis, in this book Lessing tells the story of a farmer husband, Dick Turner, and his wife Mary, their life and struggles on their farm in South Africa, while portraying the fragile and unstable state of the balance of forces between the whites and the blacks.

During the first 2 chapters I was a bit surprised and not sure if I would enjoy it (her realistic racist description shocked me), but wow, her evocative and yet simple descriptions of the African landscape, the scorching hot and the reality of the farms and sweaty hard work were very realistic and made me feel as if I was seeing it. And her storytelling! it was so painful and saddening to read the story of these 2(-3) people, who are so different and wanted so different things from life and witness as their differences and inability to understand each other (and their lack of ability to communicate) ruin their lives. Beautiful and very powerful book, it was a wonderful read, I will definitely read more by her. Someone once told me that if I read only one Lessing novel in my life, I should read The Grass Is Singing, and having read it, I can definitely second that opinion, this novel is one you definitely have to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Doris Lessing doesn't disappoint in this tale of the inner turmoil and eventual breakdown of a woman living out her lonely and frustrating marriage to a farmer in the wilds of the African veldt. Lessing's ability to use language and punctuation to great effect to paint dramatic pictures of her surroundings and the inner feelings of the main character bring colour and deeper meaning to this often bleak tale. Characterisation is superb, bringing each of the players vividly to life. It brought fascinating and powerful insight into the whole issue of apartheid, which makes shocking reading particularly in the age that we now live in.Lessing does not hold back in her descriptions of the treatment meted out to native slaves by their white masters. This was a book choosen to be read by my local Book Club, and it provoked long and passionate debate at our recent meeting to discuss it. It's not a 'fun read', but it is certainly a riveting one. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Grass is Singing-
Wonderful writing with very succinct character development. Doris Lessing gives a clear picture of the way that the "natives" of the old Africa were viewed by the whites as... Read more
Published 4 days ago by annette bonelle
5.0 out of 5 stars a truly conversational way of writing. many years ago ...
a truly conversational way of writing. many years ago I tried ti read one of her sci-fi books and failed. an indication surely that her works need a maturity in her readers.
Published 10 days ago by charles hughes
1.0 out of 5 stars I found this book dreary and predictable. I could ...
I found this book dreary and predictable. I could not understand how it was so popular when it first came out or how such an author could go on to win the Nobel prize for... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Dr. N. F. Hockings
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous book
Though an avid reader of Doris Lessing's books I had never read this her first book. Having read a good deal of well-reviewed but in my opinion rather second-rate novels recently,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by derekt
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, desperate and completely beautiful
Lessing's prose is poignant and momentous. The novel unfolds in a way that essentially highlights simultaneously the beauty and frailty of human character and the reader finds... Read more
Published 2 months ago by K Merrill
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely riveting
I loved the whole book and didn't find anything to dislike. Having also spent my early childhood in central Africa, I related to much of the book, from the real and imagined noises... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lorna Elwick
3.0 out of 5 stars Utterly depressing.
Descriptions of African bush wonderfully painted with words. But what a depressing story. A Long and drawn out descent into madness. Not a happy read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Endowed
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, focused capture of struggles in South Africa
Mary sees marriage as an escape from her suddenly reviled spinsterhood. However, live is not what she expects. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gareth Lukey
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grass is Singing
I loved the book and could almost feel Mary's pain and sense of loneliness in a loveless marriage. I just wish that the book had not had half of it taken up by advertising other... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs C M Barrett
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressed
While doubtless based on fact I found this story depressing and the characters unrealistic.
The sub plot was more interesting
Published 3 months ago by Mrs E V MERCER
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