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The Golden Notebook: A Novel

The Golden NotebookThe Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is among the more difficult novels I've ever read and difficult to review. Parts of it I really liked a lot. Parts of it were intellectually stimulating, almost like reading philosophy. Parts of it were boring and repetitive. And ultimately the final 150 pages or so left me unsatisfied. I even began skimming through them.

The structure is experimental. The main character, Anna Wulf, keeps four notebooks in which she records various aspects of her life. In these she tells stories of her time in the Communist Party, being a young woman in Africa during the Second World War, and a novelized version of her own contemporary life, among other things. These are set within narratives of Ann's current life. Towards the end she has a breakdown and then determines to create one, golden notebook that will cease the categorization of her life.

The intellectual themes of the novel are many--colonialism, racism, feminism, Marxism (particularly the disenchanting impact on western Marxists of the evils of the Stalin era).

I did benefit from reading the novel, and Lessing can write sizzlingly powerful prose. But, as I said, the end of the reading experience left me lacking, thus the two stars.

View all my reviews


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