Magazine article The Spectator

Mara and Dann

Magazine article The Spectator

Mara and Dann

Article excerpt

MARA AND DAMN by Doris Lessing 21.99, l9hrs 55 wins, unabridged

THE place is Ilfric, and the time is the future, but with Africa currently so poignantly in the news, Mara and Dann remains topical. After a coup, Mara and her little brother Dann have lost their palace home, and have walked many miles in search of water and shelter. They are taken in by an old woman and over the years they scratch a bare subsistence on a land fought over by spiders the size of dogs, huge scorpions, men made cruel by hunger and thirst - and the encroaching desert. Doris Lessing's creation of the warring societies, and the desperation of famine with cows sucking their own teats, is a powerful one.

The narration, however, does no service to the author. When we read, an internal voice is heard without being expressed, but just as a film substitutes real for imagined faces, so an audiobook provides a real voice, and the voice here is an unhappy choice. …

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