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The Cleft

by Doris Lessing

eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on The Cleft

Shortlisted for Author of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2008.

This is such an interesting take on how we might have all evolved and an insightful comment on how human beings can act and react in ignorance. Disturbing at times but thought provoking and would be great material for any reading group.

The Cleft Synopsis

An old Roman senator, contemplative at his late stage of life, embarks on what will likely be his last endeavour: the retelling of the story of human creation. He recounts the history of the Clefts, an ancient community of women living in an Edenic, coastal wilderness, confined within the valley of an overshadowing mountain. The Clefts have no need, or knowledge, of men – childbirth is controlled, like the tides that lap around their feet, through the cycles of the moon, and their children are always female. But with the unheralded birth of a strange, new child – a boy – the harmony of their community is suddenly thrown into jeopardy.

At first, in their ignorance, the Clefts are awestruck by this seemingly malformed child, but as more and more of these threateningly unfamiliar males appear, now unfavourably nicknamed Squirts, they are rejected, and are exposed on the nearby mountainside; sacrificed to the patrolling eagles overhead, the sentinels of their female haven. Unbeknownst to the Clefts, however, these baby males survive, aided by the very eagles sent to kill them, and thrive on their own on the other side of the mountain. It is not until an unusually curious young Cleft named Maire goes beyond the geographical, and emotional, divide of the mountain that this disquieting fact is uncovered – a discovery that forces the Clefts to accept and realign themselves to the prospect of a now shared world, and the possible vengeance of the wronged males.

In this fascinating and beguiling novel, Lessing confronts head-on the themes that inspired much of her early writing: how men and women, two similar and yet thoroughly distinct creatures, manage to live side by side in the world, and how the specifics of gender affect every aspect of our existence.

The Cleft Press Reviews

‘Lessing skilfully manipulates multiple perspectives…a bold, inventive and challenging book from a writer who continues to enlighten and astonish as she approaches her tenth decade.’ Independent

‘The author's reach continues to thrill…there's witchery in the Old She yet.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A narrative with the compelling stamp of Lessing's late tales.’ The Times

‘Doris Lessing writes movingly of the human desire for change…she conveys a powerful belief in the impermanence of any situation in which human beings find themselves and the paradoxically unchanging nature of human relations.’ Observer

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007233441
Publication date: 07/01/2008
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007233441
Publication date: 7th January 2008
Author: Doris Lessing
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. For over fifty years she has been writing provocative, inventive and influential works, ranging from novels, short stories and science fiction to autobiography, drama, poetry, essays and operas. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950, and her international reputation has flourished since then. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Summer Before the Dark and Memoirs of a Survivor. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, Under my ...

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