The Golden Notebook is the kind of book that I have a special name for — it is a “human document” (I can envision Doris Lessing writing this — pen to paper, head down, breathless and barely breathing, caught up in the intense flow of it, from beginning to end — for there is nothing more beautiful and wretched than the physical and mental experience of writing a novel.) It is an important book of its time and it is just as relevant now as it was fifty years ago, its themes remain timeless. It’s more than just a story with a beginning and an end and a bunch of stuff going on in the middle — oh, my dear, it is so much more than that! This is a real book — it is loaded with energy and emotions — it is dense with carefully wrought words, its texture is raw and complex, its psychological landscape is gorgeous and ugly at the same time. The characters are uncomfortable in their own skin; they love and hate — and can be indifferent; they live with the uncertainty of free will and they acknowledge their destiny, burdened by the dogma and history of those who came before them and the expectations of others. No one simply comes into this world, pours themselves into a mold and lives life confined to those perfectly formed edges. They naturally spill out, do such wonderful things right alongside of stupid things; they fitfully cringe at their flaws, yet they will go ahead and make the same mistakes over and over and over again — it’s what people do — what we are — being perfectly human, grievously imperfect in spite of our intelligence and enlightenment, blithely muddling along one breath at a time. People are dichotomies and they struggle within themselves to achieve balance — seeking beauty, looking for love. It’s an ongoing growth that we experience from birth to death, those of us who are more self-aware, like Anna Wulf, and any of us who are creative, struggle the most — part of our “being” is this struggle — this questioning, and on occasion, letting go enough to dream or to go mad, and then come back to reality, relieved or perhaps more pissed off than ever about the way things are. We go on, influencing those around us in one way or another, always looking over our shoulder and second guessing ourselves, trying to make things right — tormenting each other with truths and lies — moving on with faith and forgiveness, living with a wealth of happiness and sadness. Life goes on, trundling forward, although burdened by the bulk of the past — there is hope. For heaven sakes, don’t take my word for it, or the word of anyone else, just read it and find out for yourself.