The Sweetest Dream - By Doris Lessing (2001)
From the Book Jacket
This story of a family, spanning most of the twentieth century, has its fulcrum in the Sixties, that contradictory and embattled decade about which argument becomes louder every day. The young of that time, bursting old bonds and demanding freedom, were seen by some of their elders not at all as they saw themselves, as romantic idealists, but as deeply damaged people. Old Julia, the clan's matriarch, knows why. 'You can't have two dreadful wars and then say "That's it, and now everything will go back to normal." They're screwed up, our children, they are children of war.'
Remarkable women, Julia and Frances, grandmother and mother, fight for 'the kids' against obstacles, the worst being Comrade Johnny. Here is an unforgettable picture of a character only recently departed from our scene. 'The revolution comes before personal matters' is his dictum, as he deposits discarded wives and hurt children in the accommodating house whose emotional center is always the extendable kitchen table, that essential prop of the Sixties, where they all sit around through the evenings, eating, joking, boasting about their shoplifting, debating the violent ideologies of the time, which take some of them out to the Third World, one to a south African village dying of AIDS.
This novel reflects our recent history like a many-faceted mirror, and is full of people you are not likely to forget, every one of them, for worse or for better, directly or indirectly, made by war.
In The Sweetest Dream, Doris Lessing, one of the outstanding writers of our time, returns to the world of her own experience, that of London in the Sixties and the Africa of today.