When I finished reading this novel I didn’t know how to feel about it. From this I can tell that it had an impact on me. The description below from GoodReads doesn’t really cover all the elements going on in this short book.
“Set in Southern Rhodesia under white rule, Doris Lessing’s first novel is at once a riveting chronicle of human disintegration, a beautifully understated social critique, and a brilliant depiction of the quiet horror of one woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate. Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm works its slow poison. Mary’s despair progresses until the fateful arrival of Moses, an enigmatic, virile black servant. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses—master and slave—are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion, until their psychic tension explodes with devastating consequences.” (read more on GoodReads)
I was propelled through it, tumbling along with Mary until the end where she falls apart, and then is killed. I thought Lessing took a very real situation and told the story of it honestly. Brutally honestly. I was shocked and appalled by Mary but also there were moments when I could totally understand her feeling the way she felt concerning loneliness and her inability to change her lot with Dick…I hated her and I sympathised with her. It was tough. I related to the cultural elements of the story very well as I am accustomed to it; the harsh land, the heat, the small towns, the remote farms, the veldskoene, and even the sjambok.
It really was a hard book to read in that it made me feel so much. But I had to finish it. It is a good book no doubt. It made me feel glad that those days are gone though. Lessing also let’s you take from it what you want in way too. I don’t want to give anything away but when you see what Mary does to Moses and then later when Moses asks Mary if Jesus condones people killing other people and she answers that Jesus is on the side of the good, I saw the ending from his perspective whereas the beginning had been completely from the Turners’ perspective. That was probably the best part of this book for me – that it began and ended with the same scene but you see it in a different way. This book is going to stay with for a while but in a darker sense than other good books I’ve read that struck me.