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In Pursuit Of The English: A Documentary (1996)

In Pursuit of the English: A Documentary (1996)

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3.8 of 5 Votes: 2
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0060976292 (ISBN13: 9780060976293)
harper perennial

About book In Pursuit Of The English: A Documentary (1996)

Doris Lessing tells about when she finally came to London in 1949, the town of her dreams, after WW2 to live there and how little it met up to her expectations from the beginning. All the streets looked the same. Later on she learned to like London. After a lot of exhaustive searching she at lasts finds a room to rent for herself and her two year old son Peter in a house owned by a sometimes charming but also unhealthy and slightly dysfunctional working class family. She describes the family, the people around them and the other tenants in the house, fascinated and observing with newly arrived eyes. The portrait of Rose, who opens up to her, is kind and gentle. Rose use to come in to Doris´ room in the evenings and sit and talk or just sit quiet and drink tea with lots of sugar in it. The other portraits, of not so very sympathetic people, are nevertheless respectful and often humoristic. Chatty, gossipy Flo with Italian descent is a fantastic cook and not so good mother to Aurora her daughter with husband Dan, a carpenter with violent temper and with a gift of making money. They own the house. The time is before television and the radio is on highest volume down in the kitchen with Flo and Aurora. Everyone smokes. Doris tries her best to write in the chaos of children screaming, carpenters, quarreling neighbors, people coming in to her room uninvited for a chat. In the end of the book you sense a new time is coming. A TV is newly bought and placed in prominent position. Two young guys have moved in and are having a long and funny nonsense conversation with each other with a sense of humor that goes completely beyond Flo and Rose. The dialogue is phenomenal, spot-on, reminding of Monty Python.Doris Lessing´s portrayals are as usual outstanding and this book is a piece of modern history, anthropology.

This book completely eluded me. I know it's a Nobel prize winner, and I understood mentally why it was an excellent book, but it touched nothing within me emotionally.I felt Lessing was as remote as she could possibly be, even though she was living in the middle of a rather hilarious boarding house with her son as she attempted to write.Everything seemed to be described at arm's length, and while I knew how I was supposed to feel about the inhabitants, I never found those actual feelings generated.I actually thought this was a quite supercilious look at the so-called lower classes, but since no one else feels that way, perhaps that statement says more about me than Lessing. I did love the prostitute who didn't like to talk about sex - that was dirty talk, and she didn't want any part of it! Other than that, as I say, this book eluded me. Perhaps I'll try it again later, when I'm older and wiser.

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