Doris Lessing's Battle Scars

PETER DENCH FOR TIME

AT EASE: Lessing looks back on her parents' war-torn lives

In 1920s Rhodesia, leopards and snakes roamed the bush. Yet for 6-year-old Doris Lessing, this inhospitable environment offered a welcome refuge from her parents: Alfred, a soldier whose leg had been shattered by shrapnel in World War I, and Emily, a wartime nurse who helped to amputate it. Crouched in a patch of brush, Lessing would cover her ears and shout, "I won't listen," in an effort to drown out her parents' incessant talk of tanks, howitzers and death. "The trenches were as present to me as anything I actually saw around me," Lessing recalls in her riveting new book Alfred...

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