The Sweetest Dream

ISBN: 0060937556
ISBN 13: 9780060937553
By: Doris Lessing

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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


This book took me a while.....I read several other books in between..but I kept going back. I really cared for the main characters.....however mad I got at them at times......... I would love to hear what some of the book club members think of it...........but the books length might incite a riot......The book is set on two stages.....the world......and a large house on a side street in the sixties. The author's note at the beginning states that the book is not autobiographical........but in reading her Nobel Prize could have been a chapter in this book........I was attracted to the author when she won the Nobel Prize......Her picture reminded me of my grandmother.....and being one of only 11 women authors to win in the field of literature.....I knew I had to seek her out again........I had read some of her sci fi works years ago, but they didn't stick with me....This book will.....

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.


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.


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.


The Sweetest Dream,Doris Lessingعنوان: شیرینترین رویاها، اثر: دوریس لسینگ؛ برگردان: اسماعیل قهرمانی پور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، روزگار، 1389، در 758 ص، شابک: 9789643741655؛ فروست: شاهکارهای ادبیات جهان از مجموعه رمان روزگار 424، موضوع داستانهای انگلیسیفرانسیس زنی که از شوهرش جدا شده، و همراه با مادرشوهر و دو پسرش در خانه بزرگی زندگی میکند. دوستان فرزندانش و افراد دیگری نیز ساکن این خانه میشوند. بنابر همین دوریس لسینگ از ماجراهای خانوادگی سخن می‌گوید و روابط جدا نشدنی این افراد را در کنار هم روایت می‌کند. رمانی که بسیاری از منتقدان آن را آینه‌ای تمام نما از تاریخ زندگی انسان‌های امروزی می‌دانند، و معتقدند شخصیت‌های آن به سختی از ذهن مخاطب خارج می‌شوند. شخصیت‌هایی خوب یا بد، که زندگی‌شان به شدت تحت تاثیر جنگ و فضای آن قرار گرفته است. دوریس لسینگ در رمان «شیرین‌ترین رویاها»، به تجربیات گذشته خود باز می‌گردد و زندگی مردم را در شهر لندن و یک کشور فرضی آفریقایی مرور می‌کند؛ کشوری به نام «زیملیا» که برخی از منتقدان بر این باورند لسینگ با انتخاب چنین مکانی در داستانش، به کشور زیمبابوه و وقایع داخلی آن اشاره می‌کند. «شیرین‌ترین رویاها» داستانی طولانی است که بی وقفه روایت می‌شود و نویسنده، کتاب را به فصل‌های گوناگون تقسیم نکرده، رمانی که شاید بتوان آن را فاقد موضوعی خاص دانست، اما لسینگ در این اثر با تمرکز بر نیازهای اعضای خانواده و با بهره‌گیری از دیالوگ‌های زیاد در طول داستان، و تکیه به نثر خود، کاری کرده که «شیرین‌ترین رویاها» جذاب و خواندنی باشد


I really have no idea what I ended up reading here. It was way more interesting to discuss with book group than it was to actually read it, though at one point I felt the story became very compelling. For a good bit through, I just felt extremely disoriented by the the characters and setting. The discussion pulled some themes from the book mostly about women, work, gender equality, the role of women in the family (60's vs. today) and distinguishing what was "English" about this novel. Ultimately this was just not my kind of book but I'm very curious about the accolades that Doris Lessing has gotten for all her work. I just don't connect.


An intriguing book that could have been tailor made for me: a novel about family and friend relationships over a period of decades. I found the story - and the evocation of the 1960s - intriguing. Was the era really as depicted? According to my mother, perhaps in London but not in the rural Mendip hills! Actually, this book is an examination of "sweet dreams" that almost came to being but eventually crumbled: communism, a post-colonial Africa free of corruption and preventable diseases, and "progressive" education. While at times a bit preachy, it is well done and well-written. A thought-provoking book that has stayed with me.


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.


"Em O Sonho Mais Doce, o leitor é conduzido por uma saga familiar que atravessa três gerações, centrando-se o enredo, sobretudo, na década de 60, altura em que a casa de Júlia Lennox alberga uma grande quantidade de jovens, personificando o espírito de liberdade prevalecente na Inglaterra de então."Um livro marcante, inesquecível... é o meu terceiro livro da escritora e começa a tornar-se óbvio que o meu apreço pela escritora, mesmo antes de ler qualquer obra sua, é verdadeiro.Este livro fala-nos dos "dourados" anos 60. Acompanhamos três gerações distintas, os seus sucessos, os seus fracassos, as suas fraquezas, as suas glórias, e acima de tudo, os seus sonhos.Nunca vivi os anos 60, estou muito longe deles até, mas este livro revive o espírito, a mudança latente, a ruptura emergente, a rebeldia incessante, o pensamente de esquerda, as relações "liberalíssimas" e o Sonho constante de querer Mudar o Mundo...Julia é a personagem mais velha, sogra de Frances e avó de Andrew e Colin e, mais tarde, Sylvia. Representa a geração que ainda viveu, na juventude, a 2ª Guerra e que guarda ainda dentre de si uma educação rígida e conservadora.Frances, mãe de Andrew e Colin é a mãe liberal que torna a sua casa num albergue para jovens (amigos dos filhos, amigos dos amigos dos filhos...) que fogem de casa das suas famílias porque se sentem "incompreendidos", divorciada de Johnny um eterno comunista que defende a todo o custo da doutrina da Revolução e incentiva todos os actos contra o regime e que negligencia a educação e sustento dos filhos.Sylvia, filha da segunda mulher de Johnny, sofre na infância os tormentos de uma mãe louca que a culpa por não ter sucesso na vida. Acaba por ir para casa de Julia, que a acolhe como uma segunda mãe e lhe dá a educação que acaba por a tornar Médica. Decide fazer voluntariado numa zona de África - Zimlia - onde se inicia o confronto com a doença, que nessa altura começava a surgir, a SIDA. Esta parte do livro é a mais inquetante e a mais crua e isso torna-a, sem dúvida, na parte fulcral e culminante de todo o enredo.Existem depois uma série de personagens secundárias, cuja vida também acompanhamos de próximo e que demonstram, muitas delas, a sua hipocrisia, que mais não é do que a perda do Sonho, que está constantemente presente nesta obra - esse Sonho de mundar o mundo. Que resiste e persiste mesmo depois do Muro cair, mesmo depois de se conhecer o tamanho das atrocidades cometidas pelo Regime Soviético, e com uma citação do livro ... "mas onde está a surpresa, se, (apesar de tudo) é sempre O Sonho que conta?"."E por isso, como todos nós fazemnos com a pior e mais profunda dor, começaram a esquecer"


A vast, sweeping, panoramic novel of the 60's and the aftermath of the 60's. In the huge cast of characters and the dense intricacy of the narrative, it resembles some of the great 19th century novels, like "War and Peace", Middlemarch" or "Bleak House". Indeed, although the literary style employed here is quite accessible, keeping track of the many threads of the narrative can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Very powerful in certain parts of the book. Some of the later sequences in Africa, showing the desperate hunger for education in an obscure village, and the torments of disease and starvation that bedevil this village, are really heartbreaking. The one real problem I had with this book, and it is a significant one, is that it is shot through with a kind of scolding moralizing, a pervasive self righteousness. This kind of attitude has long been present in Lessing's work, but it seems more pronounced here. However, this novel remains a very absorbing one and I did enjoy it.


دوريس ليسينج من أجمل الأقلام الإنجليزيه التى قرأت لها فى حياتى,أنثى جميله بقلم أنثوى أكثر من رائع,أول ما قرأت لها كانت روايه بعنوان (الطفل الخامس) وأيقنت أننى وقعت فى غرام قلمها وأسلوبها السحر,وفى هذا العمل (الضخم) الساحر تقدم لنا واقع المجتمع فى فترة منتصف القرن العشرين, بأحداث اجتماعيه قمة الإبداع عبر عين شخصيتها الرئيسيه الجميله (فرانسيس)تلك المرأة المكافحه الى تضغطها ظروف الحياة لدرجة الأنفجار, كم يخذلها الرجال وكم تكافح هى لتربيه ولديها وكم تهتم بحماتها العجوزورغم أن العمل مترجم إلا أن اللغه جيده تنم عن حِرفيه شديدهالأحداث دقيقه بتفاصيل مهمه تعرف من خلالها واقع المجتمع فى تلك الفترة البعيدهالشخصيات عميقه تجد فيها العمق النفسى الذى يجعلك تتعرف على كافة أبعاد شخصياته.فى المجمل عمل روائى كامل ينم عن احترافيته وأكاديميته كسائر روايات حائزى نوبل , ورغم ضخامة العمل إلا أنى انتهيت منه فى وقت ممتاز.


Awful book. Narrative all over the place, characters are a haze of blurry, one-dimensional, half-hearted caricatures, who seldom ever feel like real characters. The story is also outrageously lacking in terms of real plot development. I can understand that, especially when it comes to 'literary fiction'; however, as much as it pains me to say this, I found nothing literary about this book. Horribly over-rated.


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.

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.

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.

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