Sunday Salon: The Grass is Singing (Doris Lessing)

Have completed 2 books this week – Man Crazy by Joyce Carol Oates, which I find the story to be a bit boring, and I also don’t like her writing style. Another one was a Lessing’s book The Grass is Singing. I really like this one, compared to her other book The Golden Notebook which is quite thick and tedious in reading.

The Grass is Singing was Doris Lessing’s first novel and brought her immediate recognition. A story of white people in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), it is both an accurate picture of Africa as is appears to the average settler and a subtle study of a doomed marriage. It’s a sad read – there’s a lot of truth about a how a person can lose herself after living so miserably in a poor living condition. Lessing’s descriptions are all very real and striking, like because of poverty, pride makes a person avoid meeting people to ask for assistance, always thinking negative thoughts of others who genuinely wanted to help; how living in a house like an oven under a corrugated iron roof for 6 years with nothing to see except farms, trees and natives in the surroundings can make a once confident girl lose her self-esteem, and become irrationally bad tempered and unreasonable etc. In this case, the protagonist treated the natives very badly. Aren’t all these universal and not just in Rhodesia? The author has painted a very real pic of the lives of people living probably during the time she spent her childhood on a large farm in Southerm Rhodesia – a time and place where the whites and the natives lived and worked together.

Though the book describes Mary Turner as a once confident person, but I find her to be very disillusioned instead, due to her own parents unhappy and poverty lives. She just wanted to live differently and forgot about her past. She didn’t know what she wanted, and thinking marriage was a way to escape, and decided on impulse to marry a man whom she had only met once just because of overhearing what her surrounding friends said behind her back.

Though the description of the surroundings and what goes inside the characters’ head slow the reading down, but overall it’s a good read. Eye-opening too.