Ben Lovatt can never fit in. To those he meets, he seems awkward - too big, too strong, inhumanly made. He baffles and he terrifies: those who do not understand him want him locked up.
His own mother locked him up; then, guilty, she liberated him. But her unyielding love for him corroded their family; the fifth child broke the home into bits. And now he is come of age, and again finds himself bewildered and alone. He searches in the faces of those he meets, to see the hostility there, or the fear, or, more rarely, the kindness. Occasionally, a gentler, less fearful person understands his need, how hard he is trying to fit in. Mostly, people make use of him, and he finds himself in the south of France, in Brazil, and in the mountains of the Andes, where at last he finds out where he has come from, who are his people.
The Fifth Child is one of Doris Lessing's most powerful, most haunting books. In this sequel, Ben Lovatt is loosed on the wider world: how that world receives him, and how he fares in it, will keep the reader of this novel gripped and on tenterhooks until its dramatic finale.