The discussions of Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child in the Tuesday and Wednesday Books & Brunch classes were lively, exciting and even sometimes heated! But everybody participated, everyone wanted to comment on this unusual novel about a family whose life falls apart when the fifth child is born who is described alternately as "alien", "monster", "throwback", "Neanderthal." What was Doris Lessing trying to do? Offer a metaphor, an allegory of the 1960s when conventional, traditional values were thrown to the wind and society began to collapse? Teach a lesson to readers that arrogance, righteousness, and being judgmental is something that is ultimately punished? That trying to be perfect in an unperfect world is something only fools try?
Lessing's book is not an easy read, there is no simple solution to the problem presented by the novel. And we, as readers, don't like it when we're faced with a problem for which there is no easy solution. Or maybe no solution at all! But it's an important book to read. Every so often we should be challenged by a book, pushed against a wall, made to think real hard about what can happen in the world. I think most people in the class liked the discussion. Any comments?