Part 1 is here.
(((feel free to skip to the last 2-3 paragraphs…)))
I originally started this review with:
This epic and sweeping story of a family of diverse characters covers the communal feel and revolutionary politics of the 60s through the following 30 years and jumps the continents from England to Africa. To say my preconceptions of Africa are incorrect might be an understatement or only another proof that stereotypes often have similarities to truth, but I digress…
I started the review of this novel after reading only 100+ pages into it and though I put the book down for an 11 day sabbatical, I was able to jump back in and relished the conclusion of the story.
Then I got befuddled and more than a couple of weeks later, I’m here:
Writing a Book Review
I googled “How to Write a Book Review” and wasn’t really surprised at how many available suggestions popped into my view.
But none inspired me just to GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!
Nonetheless, I refer you, gentle reader, to the this website as THE guide (yep, this was one of the shortest!) that I utilized the most in prompting what follows:
My Review, Part 2, of the sweetest dream by Doris Lessing.
for Part 1, see here.
The three (3) step process…
1. READ the book. Good advice! Not often followed by HS students, probably, but on this online book club blog, darn it! I promise to always read the books I review! I may not read the entire book and will say so if I had to bail on it. (OOO, this guide IS actually pushing me to type some words and think some thoughts! good.)
Now, I do not intend to imply that I did not enjoy the sweetest dream. I read it to the end, didn’t I? I would not say I squealed with its delights but I felt good about reading it. If that makes any sense. I learned something. I was impressed with the ideas expressed and HOW those ideas were scripted. I, however, can not find the words I seem to feel I should use in reviewing this work of fiction. Like eeeks! I’m not smart enough to review this book. Yep, felt like one of THOSE kind of books. Maybe some elitist snob would ‘get’ it, but maybe not me so much.
And yet, I don’t intend – OK, I don’t LIKE to put myself down here. What I mean is I don’t have the words in my vocabulary to review this? I am out of practice in reviewing this type of book! Ii’s like, I want to or need to pretend to be ambivalent about it or I might give away that I’m not intellectual enough to say some impressive mumbo-jumbo. yea, that’s it, I think!
Of course, my real idea is to write so much crap b;lah-blah-blah here that no one will read it anyway. And I can add more and more posts later which will effectively bury this post and all will be just fine, thank you very much.
THAT is what the book inspired in me. The disdain of having to review it because I said I would and the real truth that I just don’t want to review it so there. But that’s not it, I just can’t find the words. sigh.
Have I lost you yet? Gawd, I hope so. Plus, I’m sure, my frequent use of the word ‘like’ has
ingratiated alienated everyone, anyway. Especially, my Dad, like, for sure.
Very well, step 2, please:
2. Questions to ask as you read. The guide gives me some GREAT questions to address here! (thank you Waterloo!) and I will refer to just a few.
Is the author’s prose readable? YES. Is the development orderly and logical? Yes, for the most part. How is the book structured? The book’s locale is primary set in 2 very different environments on 2 different continents. And the time covers decades, with the first half of the novel set mostly in the 1960s following a family and friends of students. The second half follows primarily one character and interweaves a supporting cast of the prior family/friends.
Jumping to step 3:
3. Writing the review. The guide suggests doing the following a series of drafts, but I’m going to wing it once, right here, right now…
- A brief description of the subject, aim, and scope of the book
- An outline of its thesis and its bias
- A detailed assessment of the author’s main contentions
- An evaluation of the book’s major strengths and weaknesses
- A survey of topics not yet covered (sources, illustrations, indexes, etc.)
- An assessment of the book’s place in the literature of its subject
Actually, I’m not. I’m doing this for FUN, remember!? Oh, I could clash how British revolutionaries were more revolutionary than America’s but I really have no basis in fact to cull a comparison. But it seems like it would be so. This book describes much more anarchy than I remember in the 60s (hey, I was not of an age to be aware of it.) All I can think of is the Beatles song about ‘Back in the USSR’: why are the beatles singing a pro-Russia song? Aren’t they the bad guys?)
This book talks about communists and revolutionaries and not in a pro or con sense, what so ever. Maybe more negative, but more as an example of how people congregate in groups and take advantage of whatever they can take advantage of – be in the power circle or not at all.
The book talks about causes. How impossible it is to save the world. and how people keep trying anyway. How blinded we can be to the truth and yet, aha! whose TRUTH is it, really?
The book is both bleak, doomed even. and yet hopeful. Maybe, that is why I find it so difficult to review. For example, there are (I truly hate starting sentences like that, sorry) many instances and much talk about racial issues but it is NOT a book about race. Or maybe it is. It’s about politics, and people, and power. About love, and family, and what defines family.
I will read more Doris Lessing. I give the sweetest dream 2 1/2 stars.
On a side note, I must recommend Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains. I was reminded of this book by the makeshift hospital scenes in the remote resource-poor parts of Africa as described in the sweetest dream. Same dedication and can do spirit to provide healthcare to the neediest on our planet. Non-fiction. Kidder is a BIG favorite of mine.