The Sweetest Dream is a 'proper' novel dealing with real issues by means of well-drawn characters against a historical backdrop. It's not an easy read but it is rewarding. Lessing makes her points and states her views so forthrightly that it seems impossible that they are not always generally held views. The main feminine character, Francis Lennox, is a very put-upon lady and indeed men do not come out of this book very well. The men in the book pursue big agendas which are frequently at odds with how they behave to those around them. The heroine literally devotes her life doing good to others but is taken advantage of by most of the men in her life (the reader urges her to say 'no' but she will not listen!). The last third of the book deals with a sub-plot about HIV in Africa and continues the themes of hypocrisy and corruption by men and some unselfish behaviour by one of the young women, Sylvia, who grew up in the unconventional household overseen by Francis. This book deals with the rise and fall of communism and the impacts that it has had on people involved in its propagation and those who love them.