Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

DATE PUBLISHED: 1962 DATE READ: March 2009 NOTES: I was really looking forward to reading The Golden Notebook but it was Oh So Disappointing! It is a very complex book – but although the individual parts are not difficult to comprehend (and some could actually be stand-alone books) they do not add up to a coherent whole. Within the book there are lots of interesting bits. The despair of the members of the Communist Party in the 1950s and the differing ways of coping was certainly worth exploring. Anna also mentions meeting desperate women living in council estates while she is out canvassing for the elections. But then we hear no more of them. The narrative set in Rhodesia had some interesting aspects on colonialism, racism and the relationship of communists with African nationalists. But this episode did not seem to mesh with the rest of the book. And the inclusion of a novel within the novel about a women like Anna was just plain irritating. I read this book while in India. This made it hard to empathise with the problems of the middle-class women in The Golden Notebook when faced with real poverty. The old woman stretching out her bony hand for a few rupees would probably love to change places with the educated moneyed women in the book! Anna wonders if Tommy’s attempted suicide was as a result of reading her notebooks. I know how he felt!

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