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Doris Lessing: The Summer Before the Dark

Another fine feminist novel by Lessing, this one tells the story of Kate, a 45 year old Englishwoman, whose children are grown up and whose husband is off to work in the USA for a few months and who suddenly realises that she has devoted all her adult life to her husband and her children and has no real identity of her own. The rest of the novel tells of her attempt to redress this. She starts by working as an interpreter at an international conference on food and things develop from there. She has an affair with a younger man, of course, and mentors some of the younger women at the conference. This could all have been terribly mawkish and conventional in the hands of a lesser novelist but Lessing is such a fine novelist and, of course, has a twist that this novel holds our attention to the end.

Publishing history

First published 1973 by Jonathan Cape