26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A harrowing novel,
This review is from: The Fifth Child (Paladin Books) (Paperback)
Harriet and David met at an office end-of-the-year party. David Lovatt was a successful architect and they decided to marry the following spring. Soon they found a large Victorian house within commuting distance of London.
Their first son Luke was born in 1966. Then followed Helen, Jane and Paul in 1973.
Then Harriet was pregnant for the fifth time. But it was a difficult pregnancy, the foetus kicking and punching, but eventually their fifth child, Ben, was born. At four months, he already looked like an "angry, hostile little troll".
Later on, he became so aggressive and repulsive that Harriet and David had to protect themselves and other members of their family from his kicks and bites. Finally David decided to take him to an "institution". But soon Harriet could not tolerate the situation and on her own accord drove to the North of England to bring Ben back home. What she found there constitutes the most harrowing scene of the novel and is no doubt Mrs Lessing's sharp critique of the way such institutions used to treat mentally retarded children. Then follows Harriet's desperate attempts to re-educate Ben for social life, to the disgust of the other members of the family.
A moving and very disturbing novel in which Mrs Lessing brilliantly shows that a mother can love and devote herself to a child even if it is no more than a monster or an alien.