Book Review – The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

A selfish couple called David and Harriet buy a big house and intend to have eight children. Luckily for them the husband has a very rich father and the wife has a doting mother. The rich father pays their mortgage the doting mother looks after the children. There are big family gathering with step-fathers, step-mothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, and nieces. This is a privileged family indeed.

Then the fifth child arrives, a goblin called Ben. Everything changes.

Harriet and David can’t control Ben, he murders a dog, a cat, and tries to kill his brother Paul. This is where the story becomes truly ludicrous because all this ‘bad behaviour’ is tolerated until it gets too much and Ben is carted off having broken up the family to a strange kind of children’s hospital up’t north where it rains all the time and there are moors! How stereotypical is that? And then the author expects us to believe that Harriet goes up’t north to get the goblin back and the hospital allows her to take him away. Honestly, how far can credulity be stretched?

I won’t tell you the rest, apart from the fact that if you read this story you will be expected to believe that a loving mum and dad would allow their retarded goblin son to spend his time with children ten years older than himself and pay them to look after their son as he’s taken to the seaside on motorbikes.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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