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Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing
  

Alfred and Emily

RRP £9.99

Synopsis

Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing's first book after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature revisits her childhood in Southern Africa and the lives, both fictional and factual, that her parents led. `I think my father''s rage at the trenches took me over, when I was very young, and has never left me. Do children feel their parents' emotions? Yes, we do, and it is a legacy I could have done without. What is the use of it? It is as if that old war is in my own memory, my own consciousness.' In this extraordinary book, Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, both of them irrevocably damaged by the Great War. Her father wanted the simple life of an English farmer, but shrapnel almost killed him in the trenches, and thereafter he had to wear a wooden leg. Her mother Emily's great love was a doctor who drowned in the Channel, and she spent the war nursing the wounded in the Royal Free Hospital. In the first half of this book, Lessing imagines the lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war, a story that has them meeting at a village cricket match as children but leading separate lives. This is followed by a piercing examination of their lives as they actually came to be in the shadow of that war, their move to Rhodesia, a damaged couple hulking over Lessing's childhood in a strange land. `Here I still am,' says Doris Lessing, `trying to get out from under that monstrous legacy, trying to get free.'

Reviews

'Writers approaching 90 aren't supposed to write with vigour or experiment with form. But Lessing has never done the expected thing and Alfred and Emily is one more exception in an exceptional career.'
Blake Morrison, Guardian



`This tale has a quality at once dreamy and wooden, like beautifully carved wooden dolls. Vividly and urgently written, [it] makes us think about the moral and emotional power of different ways of telling a story.
Financial Times



'Vivid, turbulent, raw with emotion.'
Sunday Telegraph



'Quietly extraordinary...this perfectly crafted book is, as Lessing knows, the latest instalment of a remarkable payback.'
Observer



'Powerful...it is fascinating to see [Lessing] focus so sharply in her new book on what must be for us all, the most intimate of personal narratives: our parents'
lives, what they were, or might have been

.
The Times



`Lessing excels in the portrait of unsatisfactory lives, and together the parts form a poignant experiment.
Daily Telegraph



'It has the freshness, clarity and emotional acuity that made her first novel The Grass is Singing so outstanding. A tribute to a remarkable childhood, and a poignant memoir of the mother whose greatest legacy to her daughter was an invaluable gift for storytelling.'
Literary Review

About the Author

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 Skin (which received the James Tait Black Prize) and Walking in the Shade. Her recent publications include the novels The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog and The Cleft, and Time Bites, a collection of essays. Ms Lessing's collection of short novels, Five, earned her the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954. The French translation of The Golden Notebook (1962) won the Prix Medici in 1976. In 1982 she received the Austrian State Prize for Literature and the Shakespeare Prize, Hamburg. Doris Lessing has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times: Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Sirian Experiments (1981) and The Good Terrorist (1985) and won the WH Smith Award in 1985. In August 1991, she received an honorary title of Distinguished Fellow in Literature in the School of English and American Studies conferred by University of East Anglia. In 2001 she was awarded the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, the David Cohen British Literature Prize and received a Companion of Honour from the Royal Society for Literature. She was recently short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize and received S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature. Doris Lessing died in November 2013.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st March 2009

Author

Doris Lessing

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Author's Website

www.dorislessing.org/index....

Publisher

HarperPerennial an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Format

Paperback
288 pages

Categories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780007240173

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