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The Four-Gated City Doris Lessing

The Four-Gated City

Doris Lessing

Published October 19th 2010
ISBN : 9780062047946
672 pages
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 About the Book 

I originally picked up this series because I had it in my mind somehow that these books were post-apocalyptic or dystopic, and please dont ask me where I got that. But as I read these books I realized that, whoops, thats not right, not right at all. There was a period of adjustment and once I got over the fact that I was completely wrong about that, I just enjoyed the books for what they were.This fifth book is completely unlike the four that came before it. This isnt to say that this final book is better, or worse- it is just its own entity. Its a hefty book in comparison, clocking in at over 600 pages while I believe the other books all were in the 200 page range. It was almost as if Lessing realized suddenly she was on her last book of the series and she still had all these things she had to say. She managed to cram it all in here, impressively so. Annoyingly so, in some instances.At times it felt like the book would never end, and I found myself frustrated with the directions the book would take. And there were so many directions. From Marthas constant growth and transition to the constant growth and transition of every other character in Marthas life to seemingly unimportant people that come back, and its like every. single. thought. that Lessing ever had about sex and politics and philosophy. Its all here.And then the last 20+ pages were the post-apocalyptic part. See, it exists! And it was disarming and totally jarring because by that point I was no longer looking for it. Im not sure if it added anything to the series or not - in some ways I felt it was sort of shoddy, or maybe like Lessing wanted to take the story a different direction at the last minute but didnt have the balls to follow through with it.This book is more like The Golden Notebook than the first four books, and I did enjoy that. I liked Lessings philosophies in The Golden Notebook, and this seems to be the point in Lessings life where she was really getting down and dirty with her politics and beliefs. Its like the pre-Golden Notebook. A little rough around the edges, certainly, but a good step in the right direction.Its strange to be done with this series now, especially because I spent so much time with this last book - I feel like I really got to know Martha Quest/Knowles/Hesse in the end, while in the process really getting to know Doris Lessing as well.My understanding is Lessing drew a lot from her own life and experiences in the writing of these books, which makes me all the more excited to read her journals and letters. If this final book alone is any indication, Lessing had a wildly fascinating life.