The Fifth Child

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Doris Lessing, Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature

A self-satisfied couple intent on raising a happy family is shocked by the birth of an abnormal and brutal fifth child.
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1988 Hardcover Very good in very good dust jacket. First Edition. First Edition Very Good Hardcover with Dust Jacket, clean, tight, unmark, embossed seal on Half-Title Page, ... 1/2" closed tear on front panel, minor scuffing and creasing to DJ otherwise a very fine copy-ss All orders are shipped by kbooks every business day. Read more Show Less

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London 1988 Hard Cover First Edition Near Fine in Near Fine jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall.

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London 1988 Hardcover Good in Good jacket Prev owners name inside front cover o/w good.

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London 1988 Hardcover First Edition Very Good in Very Good jacket 8vo. 133 pp. Black boards lettered in gilt on the spine. Light wear at the corners of the dustjacket; price ... intact; no interior markings. '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. Read more Show Less

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London 1988 Hardcover Near Fine in near fine jacket Tight binding. No chips, tears, creases or written inscriptions. Size: 8vo (8" to 9"). 133 pp.

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London, England 1988 Hard cover Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains ... undamaged. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 133 p. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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04/21/1988 Hardcover ***SIMPLY BRIT*** We have dispatched from our UK warehouse books of good condition to over 1 million satisfied customers worldwide. We are committed to ... providing you with a reliable and efficient service at all times. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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The Fifth Child

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Overview

Doris Lessing, Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature

A self-satisfied couple intent on raising a happy family is shocked by the birth of an abnormal and brutal fifth child.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A smug, conservative couple's fifth child (after four model children) inspires fear and horror. "The implications of this slim, gripping work are ominous,'' wrote PW. Lessing indicts those in authority who refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the violence inherent in mankind. (May)
Library Journal
Mildly eccentric English couple Harriet and David Lovatt are the contented parents of four healthy children. Suddenly, their peace is forever shattered by their fifth child, Ben, a fiercely malevolent goblin-child with a penchant for violence. It is suggested that Ben is a throwback to earlier, precivilized time, that he represents a random settling of neanderthal-like genes that all humans carry. Only Harriet tries to civilize the boy, and he gradually learns to function on a primitive level and even collects a band of similar outcasts about him. Unwanted, they leave their homes to wander England like modern-day troglodytes. Society's complicity with their fate is a reflection of its callousness. Not major Lessing but sensitive and strangely compelling nevertheless. Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.
From the Publisher
“A hair-raising tale…as full of twists and shocks as any page turner could desire.” —Time“Terse and chilling…. A witch’s brew of conflicting fears.” —The New York Review of Books“A horror story of maternity and the nightmare of social collapse…. A moral fable of the genre that includes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.” —The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780224025539
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/27/1988
  • Pages: 128

Meet the Author

Doris  Lessing

Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia, in 1919, and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia when she was five years old. She went to England in 1949 and has lived there ever since. She is the author of more than thirty books—novels, stories, reportage, poems, and plays. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Doris May Tayler (birth name), Jane Somers (pseudonym)
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1919
    2. Place of Birth:
      Persia (now Iran)
    1. Date of Death:
      November 17, 2013
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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(7)

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2008

    Pleasant Surprise...

    At first, when I put the title together with the brief online synopsis that I had read, I thought this would be something like The Omen. However, while this is definitely a part of that whole bad seed genre, it's really nothing like it. While The Omen focuses on the horrific aspects of Damien's presence, The Fifth Seed centers more around the emotional changes/downward spiral that occurred as a result of/after the birth of 'the fifth child'. With that said, one thing I love about this book is that it wasn't predictable by any means and I just could never figure out where the story was gonna go next.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Menacing tale

    Definitely a cautionary tale to those whom want children. This book resembles aspects of The Omen, but yet has a creepy factor of it's own. The books starts off as a hopeful married couple wanting to have a large family of 6-10 children. However, during the fifth pregnancy, Harriet (the wife) is in such pain that she reaches the conclusion that the fetus is causing her pain and suffering. The pain and suffering only amplified once the fifth child was born. The father didn't love him the other children were scared of this child that committed murders as a toddler. The family that was so happy and in love were torn apart by a goblin like creature. The parents finally reached a decision to send the child to an institute, but then the mother riddled with guilt made the worst choice..... This is a quick read, and is an unusual format for a book because it doesn't have any chapters (which it took me to about pg 100 to realize). I couldn't put this menacing tale of a boy that can mentally and physical destroy everything and everyone in his path, while convincing doctors and other health professionals that there is nothing wrong with him. There is a sequel to this book, which I intend to read, because for me the ending was not what I expected and am curious to find out what became of the fifth child, because this book kind of left his fate undecided.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2004

    makes you think the unthinkable

    a well-told story that raises harrowing questions. what are the limits of a parent's love? what are the limits of a society's duty to care? are all children lovable? should they be? this novella forces the reader to take a painstaking look at evil and challenges us to refrain from passing judgement on the good souls faced with it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2003

    The mistery of parenthood

    Why is it that most parents love their children and their children love them? Why do we take that love for granted? This short, breathtaking novel by Lessing makes us ask ourselves questions like that. It combines the narrative and fantastic genres. Poor Mark and Harriet. I'm glad I'm not under their skin.Please don't read this book before going to bed, or you won't sleep at all. And, what is worse, you will stay awake asking yourself if those noises are perhaps your children, awake and thinking God knows what.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2002

    The Title Says It all

    At the beggining of this book i was thinking what does this have to do with the title. This book has to be one of my favorites. Harriet is very determined and loyal while David works hard but just can't handle some situations. The auhtor provides a point of view from child and parent so you get the idea of both siuations. And as for Harriets mother, boy does she get a work out.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Mother's Little Hero.

    In the relaxed mood of England in the late 1960s, Harriet and David Lovatt, face an unpleasant change of fortune when their fifth child is born.
    It's a boy and they call him Ben. The publisher calls him" monstrous in appearance, insatiable hungry, abnormally strong, demanding, brutal".
    Voila, just a normal kid I should say.

    After Ben is born it strikes me that after some time the father apparently has no interest at all in the education of his fifth child. I've been told that a father is less preoccupied by his children than the mother. 'Less preoccupied' is an understatement in this case. 'Totally uninterested' would be a better phrase. It's almost as if he wants to distance himself completely, foreseeing a family disaster.

    Later on Ben wants to lead his own life and he leaves his parents. But one day his mother is watching TV and she sees a coverage of a rather brutal demonstration. She recognizes Ben among the demonstrators and she makes the decision to go searching for her son.
    But who is this kid really? Is he a juvenile delinquent? Is he autistic? I don't believe that he says two understandable words in the whole novel.

    I believe that this book is one of the most enigmatic novels written by Doris Lessing. Is it a crime novel? Is it a symbolic novel about the times we are living in? Maybe one of the main questions is: how far goes the love of a mother for her child?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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