The Fifth Child

The Fifth Child

Doris Lessing

‘Listening to the laughter, the sounds of children playing, Harriet and David would reach for each other’s hand, and smile, and breathe happiness.’ Four children, a beautiful old house, the love of relatives and friends – Harriet and David Lovatt’s life is a glorious hymn to domestic bliss and old-fashioned family values. But when their fifth child is born, a sickly and implacable shadow is cast over this tender idyll. Large and ugly, violent and uncontrollable, the infant Ben, ‘full of cold dislike’, tears at Harriet’s breast. Struggling to care for her new-born child, faced with a darkness and a strange defiance she has never known before, Harriet is deeply afraid of what, exactly, she has brought into the world …

Reviews of The Fifth Child

    • ‘“The Fifth Child” has the intensity of a nightmare, a horror story poised somewhere between a naturalistic account of family life and an allegory that draws on science fiction. Read it and tremble.’ Clare Tomalin, Independent
    • ‘“The Fifth Child” is a book to send shivers down your spine, but one which it is impossible to put down until it is finished. Doris Lessing’s power to captivate and convince is evident from the first, and the effect of the odd, alien child on the family is conveyed with quiet understatement which adds to the mounting sense of horror.’ Sunday Times
    • ‘A disturbing vision, “The Fifth Child” offers a faithful if chilling reflection of the world we live in.’ Sunday Telegraph

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