“I see I am falling into the self-punishing, cynical tone again. Yet how comforting this tone is, like a sort of poultice on a wound.”
— Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
This big book is well worth the effort. Having started my foray into Lessing’s work through her non-fiction, I was curious how her intellect would feature in her fiction writing. This definitely wasn’t a light read; the subject matter was pretty serious- life, feminism, politics, Africa and so on. The story revolves around Anna Wulf, single mother and best-selling author of one popular book, who is suffering from writer’s block and is seeing a psychiatrist. The book follows Anna through her marriage, divorce, early years in Rhodesia, her countless love affairs, and her quest to find the right balance as a woman while being a mother, while recording various life events in a series of colour-coded notebooks.
Generally I liked the candidness of this book though I felt some aspects were too graphically described. I kept thinking all the way through the book about how impactful it must have been when it was first published over 60 years ago especially as it dwelt on the subject matters of feminism and female sexuality.
Because I live in a relatively emancipated age, the feminist parts didn’t interest me as much as the political and historical content. The section on European life in colonial Southern Rhodesia was intriguing. Also, seeing how how communism was treated was interesting especially as I don’t think communism has such a great stigma these days. Politics were definitely a large part of this book.
Did I like Anna? I found her slightly infuriating for the most part but at the same time as a woman I can definitely sympathize with her, issues that affect many women. Trying to find balance mostly.
The book was written in a fragmented style, which I quite liked because it kind of ties in with Anna and her fragmented persona:
“We’re driven by something to be as many different things or people as possible.”
I put off writing this review for so long because there was so much content and points for discussion in the book. This is the perfect book to discuss with others; too bad it’s too long for my bookclub.