In The Sweetest Dream
devotees of communism are some overexcited, smelly youths with greasy unwashed hairs who have sweetest dreams about the future of their ideology. This is England in 1970.
The historical-fiction aspect in this novel is so strong that I sometimes felt I was reading a real historical book. All the meetings, family gatherings and discussions are revolving around politics.
A big family, consisting of Frances and her two sons: Colin and Andrew, Julia -grandmother, Johnny-Julia's son and Frances' ex-husband and many friends of Colin and Andrew- Rose, Sophie, Danial… They are all living in Julia's big house.
Johnny is a famous communist leader. He always comes to this house for dinner with his new fellows. He stands by the window- not sits at the table and speaks about politics. He is a bad father. He never understands his sons – doesn't know anything about affection or love. He gets married three times- and each time he says I finally find my real fellow my real wife!
Strong characters are female – as I expected. Frances, Julia and then Silvia. Three women with different ages and from different generations. And aren't they a representation of the writer, herself, for different parts of her life?! Considering that Doris Lessing wrote this book in 2001, when she was 82, I can imagine Silvia as young, Francis as middle aged and Julia as 82- Doris Lessing.
A big part of this novel is devoted to Zimlia a fictional country in Africa, which some say it is Zimbabwe, in which Lessing lived there some years. Silvia went to work in an African mission hospital voluntarily as a doctor. This is the time of new revolutions, new miseries and new diseases like AIDS.
Feminists and defenders of women's rights in this novel are some radical, self-centered women, like Rose Trimble, a journalist who divorced her nice husband because of his smiles after having been bombard by his wife's nonstop speeches about women.
I think this is a novel which could be written only by an 82 female writer who witnessed a big part of history, who was herself a communist, feminist and conservative in special periods of her life.