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The Sweetest Dream Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006552307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006552307
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,405 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

Amazon Review

The motivating power of dream and the political price of illusions are the subject of Doris Lessing's extended family saga, The Sweetest Dream. While Frances Lennox, uncomplaining and unsentimental about her roles as 60s earth mother for a string of "screwed up" post-war children, serves up endless nurturing at the crowded kitchen table of a large North London house, her erstwhile ex-husband pursues revolution on all-expenses-paid trips and conferences. Occasionally he drops by for free meals or to dump one of the children--or wives--of another failed marriage on Frances' doorstep. Lessing is able to turn a dispassionate eye on the economics of free love, in which women usually pay.

From swinging 60s London to liberated sub-Saharan Africa, the author depicts the human faces of a broad canvas of issues in this polemical piece. The novel ranges from anorexia to AIDS, to casting a questioning eye at the morality of the travellers on the World Bankgravy train. Moving from London to the tragic landscape of post-independence "Zimlia"--a thinly veiled Zimbabwe--Lessing documents the social movement and lost dreams of a post-war generation, for whom "it is always The Dream that counts". --Rachel Holmes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Her portraits of sympathetic human relationships are of quite staggering beauty…It would be hard to exaggerate the splendour of this book.’ The Times

‘The haunting brilliance of her characters…the passion of her ideas and vision, remain undiminished. She’s up there in the pantheon with Honore [Balzac] and George [Eliot].’ Independent

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Jan 2006
Format: Paperback
In the first half of this splendid book we are back more or less in the territory of the author's The Good Terrorist. Frances Lennox, a middle -aged woman living in a large Hampstead house, presides unassertively over a large dinner table frequented by a group of 1960s youngsters brought home by her sons and who mostly belong to the radical left. Her Stalinist (later Maoist) ex-husband (irresponsibly abandoning wives and children seriatim) also drops in from time to time when he is not being a delegate in plushy hotels abroad, and plays the guru to the youngsters. Some rooms in the house become almost permanent squats for the young people who have often fallen out with their middle class families. Frances herself is a middle class left-wing Liberal; but she is unwilling to assert herself even when some of those who avail herself of her hospitality abuse her for being bourgeois and for belonging to an exploiting class. The politics of these youngsters are depicted as crude, their rhetoric based on clich s and slogans, their behaviour as selfish and self-indulgent. For instance, they defend their shop-lifting as an anti-capitalist activity. Clearly this novel is in part a scathing political tract against the radical left. But it is much more than that, as the psychology of Frances, of her sons, her mother-in-law, and each of the other young people is displayed with an insight which makes this a great novel and a captivating read.
In the second half of the book, in the 1980s, we move to "Zimlia", a newly liberated African country. Sylvia, Frances' step-daughter, has trained as a doctor and has then gone to work in a desperately poverty- and AIDS-stricken village in that country.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Fear on 7 Mar 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a remarkable achievement from the grand dame of English literature. She describes the evolution of a family over three generations - most of it spent in the same big old Hampstead house. We know the picture: a bunch of misfits, misguided revolutionaries, esoteric healers, shoplifters, writers, drinkers and smokers, a young woman doctor with missionary zeal and an unsung heroine - all thrown together. The world of sixties bohemian Hampstead is vividly described, the emotions of young and old, and later a new world of African despots and Global Money executives is interweaved in a complex story of home-truths and observation. We catch a glimpse of the writer's own life, dreams and sorrows. Something of her own experience in each character; the old magic is still there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
This is my absolutely favourite Doris Lessing novel. Set in 1960s and 70s Hampstead, and in Africa and London in the 1980s, Lessing's epic novel tells of the gradual collapse of the socialist dream, and of the early days of independence in Africa, seen through the eyes of a host of vivid characters, including three unforgettable women: German immigrant Julia, who left her country after World War I to marry a British diplomat, Frances, who married Julia's son Johnny (who became a fanatical Communist, and is always referred to as 'Comrade' Johnny) and discovered her vocation as a writer after her divorce, and Sylvia, Johnny's timid and anorexic stepdaughter, who becomes a doctor working in a poverty-stricken African village. There are wonderful descriptions of Swinging 60s London, the beginnings of Thatcherism, and the terrible corruption in an African country after independence (the country is called Zimlia but is clearly modelled on Zimbabwe, where Lessing herself grew up). Lessing manages something only rarely brought off since the days of Dickens and George Eliot - a novel that can on one page make you laugh uproariously, and at another point have you almost weeping with pity for some of the characters. There's plenty of fascinating historical and political information. Most of all, it's a deeply humane book. I really believed in most of the characters I was reading about, and felt I missed some of them once I'd finished the book. A novel to read and read again and surely one of the greatest to be produced in the last fifty years.
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