From 1001 Books:
"When, in 1972, Margaret Drabble characterized Doris Lessing as a 'Cassandra in a World under seige,' she brought into focus what has become a truism in the reception of Lessing's writing: namely, that we read her to find out 'what's going on,' for an independent 'diagnosis' of the dilemmas of our individual and collective lives. First published in 1962, The Golden Notebook was immediately taken up -- or, in Lessing's terms, 'belittled' -- as a crucial intervention in the so-called sex war. It was seen as a literary plea for psychic and political change in the lives of the 'free women' at the book's heart. It is a complex novel, narrated through the four notebooks that divide, and contain, the life of the protagonist, Anna Wulf. As a struggling writer and single mother closely associated with the Communist Party through the 1950s, Wulf is the figure through whom Lessing writes about the conflicts of sexuality and sexual difference, politics and creativity -- and, in particular, the theme of breakdown -- that is omnipresent throughout the book. The crisis of political belief that shadowed the British Communist Party through the 1950s, the paranoia of the Cold War, is refracted through both the crisis of imagination that afflicts Anna Wulf as a writer and the disturbance in the relationship between the sexes that so preoccupies her as a 'modern' woman."