Doris Lessing's Fifth Child . . .
I recently finished reading this fascinating short novel by Doris Lessing, but I thought that I wasn't going to finish -- and even stopped once for over a week -- because the story's tension left me with the foreboding that something dreadful would surely happen, perhaps to a large dog that comes with visitors, a dog friendly to most people:
But if Ben was in the room, the dog watched him carefully and went to lie in a corner, his head on his paws, stiff with attention. One morning when people were sitting around having breakfast, Harriet for some reason turned her head and saw the dog, asleep, and Ben going silently up to him in a low crouch, hands held out in front of him . . .Ben is only three years old. His parents, Harriet and David, are an old-fashioned couple who get something rather more old-fashioned than they expected with the fifth child.
"Ben!" said Harriet sharply. She saw those cold eyes turn towards her, caught a gleam of pure malice.
The dog, alerted, scrambled up, and his hair stood on end. He whined anxiously, and came into the part of the room where they all were, and lay down under the table.
Everyone had seen this and sat silent . . . (Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child, New York: Vintage, 1988, page 71)
Not a novel for everyone, but I managed to quell my anxiety and read on to the end, and I now can't get the story off my mind . . .