The Sweetest Dream

ISBN: 0060937556
ISBN 13: 9780060937553
By: Doris Lessing

Check Price Now


Africa Currently Reading Ebook Favorites Fiction Historical Fiction Literature Novel To Read Uk

About this book

Set against the backdrop of the decade that changed the world forever, The Sweetest Dream is a riveting look at a group of people who dared to dream-and faced the inevitable cleanup afterward -- from one of the greatest writers of our time.

Reader's Thoughts


In this testament to a time long ago, "The Sweetest Dream: A Novel" reminds us of a colorful era when the boundaries were blurred, the issues were paramount, and many young people (and some older ones) were celebrating the revolution.Frances Lennox is trying to make it on her own, raise her two sons, and manage to maintain a household for the seemingly ever-growing group of hangers-on that shows up regularly at the house owned by her former mother-in-law Julia, whose generosity she depends upon. Neither of them are very happy when ex-husband Johnny (and black sheep son) shows up frequently, expecting the king's treatment.During one of these moments, Frances gives in to the feelings she often hides. Her ex has just savagely put down his son Colin, whose first novel is being published; in his rant, Johnny reams his son out for his bourgeois beliefs and attitudes. Frances calls him to task for his behavior, which goes against the grain for her and wrings her out emotionally.Following this dramatic scene, Frances gives in to her feelings, showing them freely, for the first time ever: "And then, a surprise to herself, Frances laid her head down on her arms, on the table, among all the dishes. She sobbed. Andrew waited, noting the freshets of tears that renewed themselves every time he thought she had recovered. He was white too now, shaken. He had never seen his mother cry, never heard her criticize his father in this way."But despite the emotional moments Frances suffers, from time to time, she continues the task of cleaning up other people's messes.Throughout this tale, I wanted to shake this woman; but I also knew that she was, in a way, a victim of her times.The book was long, with relentless moments such as these, which I found tedious, despite being able to relate to the story. Nevertheless, the most I can offer is four stars at this time.

Nikki Klein

I couldn't get into this book. Too many words to make it's points. I found myself skimming the pages. Gave up and shelved it.

Janene Tamborello

Just Meh. I will read another Lessing so I know what all the fuss is about. Maybe its just my mood, but this was boring, lacked humor and was not all that insightful. Feels like she scolding everyone. Yes, communism sucks. Hero worship is a weird thing among the mucky much of everyday life. Selfish men cause chaos and care giving women pick up their messes. The 60's was about an idealism that ended up disappointing. Young people's morals and motivations are bizarre and ever changing, yet they all mellow into less opinionated regular folk. The writing is nice but I don't care where anybody's going. It is too long.


It is not for nothing that Doris Lessing won the Noble Prize.I place this book into an imaginary genre called "British Gothic." It's a book that covers the life of a family over 30-40 years from the early 19060s until the 90s or so. It deals with politics, class, parents and children and the separate worlds that they inhabit. It does not have a classic arc but is rather about the family as a whole and the individuals as members of it.It's brilliant. The characters are incredibly engaging. I finally decided that the story is really about idealism and how one can betray one's self and others by by remaining true to it.Since it is very difficult to write of a synopsis of the book, I give you Amazon's:"Frances Lennox and her two adolescent sons and their motley friends have taken over the bottom floors of a rambling house in Hampstead, London. Over the roiling years that begin with news of President Kennedy's assassination, a mutable assortment of young habitues gather around Frances's kitchen table, and [Frances' ex-husband:] Comrade Johnny makes cameo appearances, ever espousing Marxist propaganda. Lessing clearly relishes the recalcitrant '60s, yet she follows her characters through the women's movement of the '70s and a lengthy final digression in '90s Africa."

Francesca Ponassi

Doris Lessing ci offre interessanti punti di vista sulla società inglese degli anni '60 e non solo.

Errol Hess

I fear I've neglected Lessing the last couple of decades--inexcusable as she was one of the greatest writers in English in the 20th century and well into the 21st. This book dates from 2001. Set in the 80s and 90s,it describes a group of people who live in a London House, starting with the grandmother, from Germany, courted by a Brit in the 1930s who married her after the war and brought her to England. Then there's her sons. One, a Communist and thoroughly selfish person, marries and leaves his wife with children. His mother takes them in. The ex-wife, in turn, takes in a variety of people: friends of her children, her ex-husband's daughter by his second wife, his second wife when he leaves her, etc. We witness their lives in this apparently pivotal time. And, near the end, we return to Lessing's native Africa. In her novel, Lessing parodies, politicians of all ilks, do-gooders more involved with their own status than knowledgable of the conditions they appear to address. At the same time she describes the goodness and flaws of ordinary and sometimes extraordinary people as the play the hands life has dealt them.

Wendy Brown-Baez

The extended family made up of friends and young people alienated from their own parents, the idealism and the disillusionment, were very familiar to me as a teen of the 60's. I understood Frances although I did want to shake her out of being used by others. But I often had trouble sympathizing with the other characters; they didn't resonate with me. I was watching from a little bit of a distance a fascinating portrayal of a living situation that had the potential to be inspiring and instead, everyone seem self-centered and self-conscious. I was captivated and drawn into the family saga but it seemed like the last part about Africa was really another book. I had to force myself to read it even though it had in fact interesting details about Africa and the AIDS epidemic. It was just that I felt disconnected from the previous story. It felt like the author's need to witness the situationin Africa more than a real flow to the original story.

meer damad

طالعت هذه الرواية في رفوف المكتبات، إلا أنّ سعرها الغالي كان محفزاً لي لتركها؛ علّـني اتحصل عليها في موقع هنا او مجلدٍ هناك. إلا اني طمعت فيها كثيراً حينما وجدتها في معرض الأيام الثقافي في المنامة، العاصمة البحرينيّة، فاقتنيتها بسعر يختلف بشكل يسير ( 60 ريال! ) في سبتمبر الماضي. والآن، أجدها قد قاربت هذا السعر في رفوف المكتبات.البارحة، كان آخر عهدي في قراءة الرواية. صفحاتها – ذات الحجم الوزيري – كانت مملوءة بالأحداث. أمــا الحوارات، فهنا وهناك تجدها مبعثرة. إلا أن الصعوبة كل الصعوبة، والسوء كله في الترجمة، التي حاكت باسهاب الترجمة الحرفية من دون تدخل من قِبل المترجم لتعديل هذا وتقوية ذاك، وذلك ما يجعلك تعيد قراءة بعض النصوص والصفحات؛ محاولاً فهمها!بداية الرواية كانت مربكة، ورغم ميلي للروايات الطويلة، إلا أنني عانيت فترة حتى استطعت التوفيق بين الأحداث في بداية الرواية، بعد مسيرة تقارب المئة صفحة منها!كانت الرواية تحاول محاكاة المجتمع البريطاني خلال حقبة الستينيات 1960s بكل ما فيها من تفاصيل، حتى ذلك التوجه الكبير للتبشير في الأحراش الأفريقـيّة. رواية نجحت في عكس تناقضات جيلـَي الشباب والكبار في تلك الفترة، لتفسّرَ عمق الشرخ داخل العلاقات الأسرية والعائليّة في تلك المجتمعات.ولعَلّ أجمل ما في الرواية من وجهة نظري، وما استهلكَ كثيراً من أجزائها، هو القسم المتعلق بأفريقيا، وبالتحديد في زيملايا – كما تقول الكاتبة – والعمل التطوعي فيها، عبر بعثات التبشير. ورغم ميل الكاتبة العنيف للرجل الأبيض، وانتقادها لتصرفات السود – رغم قضائها فترة طويلة معهم كما يقول المترجم – إلا أنها احسنت وصف الحالة المعاشة هناك في مجاهل أفريقيا، والتي لا أتصور تغيّرها رغم هذه السنين، وإن لم أ ُوَفق لزيارتها.خـَتمت الكاتبة الرواية، بثلاث نهايات، موت مفاجئ وهو في نظري نهاية رتيـبة. وتحقيق أحلام صبيين انضما حديثاً للعائلة، وذلك أكثر رتابة. إلا أنّ مشهد الطفولة الأخير، في لندن، كان مشهداً جـِد جميل.تبقى الرواية، دعوة مفتوحة لمن يرغب في معرفة بؤس تلك المجتمعات الغربية من الناحية الاجتماعيّة، وتفككِها، باعتراف أهلها وكتـّابها. واحب التأكيد على الفكرة الجيدة التي تعطيها الرواية – رغم سعرها المرتفع جداً – عن الوضع الأفريقي، وكما قلت سابقاً، لا أظن أن الوضعين قد اختفا..إلى يومنا هذا!المير دامـاد


Luego de haberme enterado de que esta fabulosa autora a quién le he tomado cariño en los últimos meses falleció, sentí un gran deseo de hacer una reseña de este libro. Ya no lo tengo fresco, pero causó una gran impresión en mí.Este libro, como lo menciona la autora, fue una manera de reflejar los 60's sin tener que hacer la segunda parte de su biografía, esto con el fin de evitar lastimar susceptibilidades. Es por esto, que Lessing en lugar de hablar de ella, habla de una gran cantidad de personajes.Es uno de los primeros libros que leo con tantos , sin mencionar que todos tienen su protagonismo y un desarrollo impecable.La historia se centra en Frances, una ex revolucionaria que es abandonada por su comunista ex esposo (Johnny). Ella tiene que mantener a sus dos hijos y hacerse cargo de ellos por su cuenta, hasta que su suegra, Julia, logra convencerla de que viva con ella en su enorme casa. Frances tuvo que abandonar su sueño de seguir haciendo Teatro debido a la inestabilidad del trabajo, por lo tanto, tiene que apegarse a un aburrido puesto en un periódico dando consejos a mujeres desesperadas. Esta es la base de la historia, podemos determinar que Frances es la protagonista, pero no, en realidad la protagonista es la casa de Julia, una casa que alberga no sólo a la familia de Frances, si no a un grupo de jóvenes con pensamientos "revolucionarios" que han salido de sus casas en busca de alejarse de aquellos padres que no entienden sus deseos de rebelión contra el sistema. Durante todo el libro vemos el desarrollo de todos los personajes, desde Frances, Julia, Johnny, hasta el último de los jóvenes rebeldes. Todos van creciendo, todos desarrollan su personalidad y los vemos convertirse en adultos llenos de responsabilidades y muchos problemas emocionales. Vemos un perfecto reflejo de la juventud en los años 60, y en qué logran convertirse.El libro me fascinó, envuelve muy bien en la historia y logras conocer los motivos detrás de la acción de cada uno. Te conviertes en testigo de una reflexión y un seguimiento de ideas muy particular para cada personaje, así que a pesar de que son muchos, no perderás el hilo. Es una historia para disfrutar.


This is a book which tells the story of one family pretty much through the 20th century. Julia, the matriach, is a German woman who is young in the First World War. Between wars she marries a British soldier and moves to London. The book has as a central character the house she and her extended family live in.The strong characters are almost entirely female, as too are some of the weaker ones.Her rather useless son, Johnny, is a communist in the 60s and his ex-wift Francis lives inthe house with their sons. There is the daughter of the second wife, Sylvia who enters the book as a disturbed annorexic teen and leaves it a doctor workign in rural Zimlia, a ficitious African country post independence which is essentially a mix of Zimbabwe and South African now.The book, for me, seemed to be about how we all travel through life, doing what we do and thus affecting the people behind us and how they expereince the world. It also includes the way women see the world, and how they interact with it, and how that has changed in the decades since Julia was a young women.The book is full of characters you will remember, even, or maybe especially, the ones you do not like. They are all very real as are their lives and their decisions.At times I was frustrated by the characters and at others I felt their helplessness as they simply tried to make the best of what life offered them.Definately a book filled with women doing what women do - raising families and trying to give the individuals they are 'responsible' for a little more than what they had.a very enjoyable audio book althoguh I am not sure how I would have felt about its length had I been reading it.I will certainly take another Lessing out of the library - I am new to her but have been meaning to read some of her stuff for ages.

Vasco Ribeiro

Fiquei com curiosidade de perceber se o livro era uma auto-biografia ou não, e por isso despertou-me a curiosidade de ver a biografia da autora na wikipédia e não cheguei a nenhuma conclusão. Achei engraçada a análise divertida e objetiva da intelectualidade de esquerda, pretensamente jovem e vanguardista, dos anos 60. A escritora também parece muito divertida a escrever e a dissecar os caracteres e as personagens. De qualquer maneira o livro tem duas partes muito diferentes embora que se entrecruzam ligeiramente: a parte inicial em Londres, e a parte final algures em África. Podiam ser dois livros, até porque as personagens principais mudam. Mas não são. Por isso fica-se a perguntar porque é que a Autora fez assim. Por mim não alcancei uma resposta.


I was a child of the 60s in the US. This book reminds me of how old I have become and how idealistic I was. The 60s in Britian were different than in the US, but there were still many similarities. There were children, who left their families to live with other families, because they could not tolerate their parents. There were demonstrations, drugs, sexual promiscuity and a general rebellion against authority and the Establishment, but the Communist Party seemed to play a big role in Britian while the Communists were locked up in the US. I think their history of having survived two world wars helped to shape their behavior. This novel traces the lives of a group of British children who were entering adolesence in the 60s until they entered middle age at the end of the century. Definitely worth reading. If you grew up in the 60s, you may find yourself in one or more of the characters as did I, and you will learn more about yourself and where your life began.

Sarah Newton

Absolutely superb. This is a classic "great novel" - it reminded me very much of Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks". It's a tale of a family spanning generations, tracing British society's relationship with communism, and in particular the "Leninist / Stalinist communism" of the Soviet Union and China, from the 1960s to 1990s. It's very much more than that, though - a study of hypocrisy, lip-service, real active humanity vs cynicism, exploitation, and ingratitude.I found myself arguing with Lessing's politics somewhat, while agreeing with her depiction of human nature. Especially in the early parts of the novel, she appears to be entirely critical of attempts to agitate for social justice and in favour of a more conservative, libertarian "common sense". Happily, as the novel progresses, it's clear she's being a lot more subtle than this, and using "communism" (or the 20th century statist-totalitarian nightmare which called itself "communism") as a hook for hanging her social critique on, in the same way that a 19th century writer would use the church or political protest. There are lots of echoes - Mrs Jellaby from Bleak House, the three generations of Buddenbrooks, Rousseau, Candide, and a whole lot of Dostoevsky, from Verkhovensky / Stavrogin in The Devils and some very explicit appeals to Sonia from Crime & Punishment. In the end, though, it's a hugely powerful, original, and modern work; its conclusion could be seen as somewhat nihilist, but I prefer to read it as very human: good is its own reward, and is punished accordingly.


A family epic and commentary on society covering the mid twentieth century years. Doris Lessing manages to interweave events, such as Kennedy's assassination, the Vietnam war, African states pursuit of independent rule, AIDs, free love and recreational drug use, around the lives of the Lennox family and their friends. A critique of communism threads its way through the story, exposing its failure to bring about change, simply replacing one form of power and oppression with another. Her women are portrayed as strong and while embracing care for others, aspire to change the world, whilst the menfolk are generally more passive or even parasitic. She suggests in the end that we could all aspire to greater things, but circumstances may over-rule. Education is perhaps the solution. Just as she educated herself through reading widely, we find the Africans doing the same in the final pages of this book.A great read which provokes thought.


I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that I enoyed this book. I recently also read "The Grass Is Singing," which really disappointed me in that, while it was clear that the ideas Lessing was putting forth and the themes she was exploring were probably rather revolutionary at the time they felt rather dated for a post postcolonial theory world. I had similar issues with the last third of "The Sweetest Dream," which sort of spirals off into another diatribe about the problematic relationship between Africa and Europe. But the rest of the book was a compelling, fun read. The way Lessing presents London in the sixties really made me reexamine my own conception of that era and see more deeply the complexity of some of the issues (feminism, communism, ideas of family) that I often take for granted as being rather black and white.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *