"Doris Lessing's new book is a darkly visionary novel set in the not-so-distant future when men, women, and even young children are fighting for survival in a world that is swiftly falling apart.
Mrs. Lessing calls this book "an attempt at autobiography," but it is also a fable, a magical tale describing the charged emotional atmosphere a few years from now, when barbarism is the norm and each of us has to struggle to survive. From her window the narrator watches things fall apart, sees the migrating hordes seethe past in search of the safety, the shelter, the good life that is always somewhere else - far from the anarchy of the emptying city, where people huddle together in tribes for self-defense, where plants and animals take over deserted streets and houses. She also watches over the child Emily, left with her by a stranger who says, "Look after her; she is your responsibility," and then disappears.
Inside her room ordinary time unexpectedly dissolves, and the narrator is faced with painful scenes from the past - from childhood and adolescence, even from infancy. And also with a growing knowledge of an intelligent presence that is always there, just behind the facade of our everyday reality...
This is a strong, phantasmagorical book which develops themes touched upon in The Four-Gated City, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, The Summer Before the Dark, and in parts of The Golden Notebook.