Harriet and David, against the trends of the 1960s, favour fidelity, love, family life and a permanent home. They marry and begin their lives together in an old Victorian house; children fill the home and life is idyllic. It is only when Harriet becomes pregnant for the fifth time that problems occur. After a difficult pregnancy and birth, the strange-looking child develops fast and grows bigger; he is unloving and disliked by his brothers and sisters. Inexorably, his alien presence wrecks the dream of their happy family. Harriet's fear grows as she struggles to love and care for this "changeling" child.
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The married couple in this novel pull off a remarkable achievement: They purchase a three-story house with oodles of bedrooms, and, on a middle-class income, in the '70s, fill it to the brim with happy children and visiting relatives. Their holiday gatherings are sumptuous celebrations of life and togetherness. And then the fifth child arrives. He's just a child--he's not supernatural. But is he really human? This is an elegantly written tale that the New York Times called "a horror story of maternity and the nightmare of social collapse . . . a moral fable of the genre that includes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and George Orwell's 1984."From the Inside Flap :
A self-satisfied couple intent on raising a happy family is shocked by the birth of an abnormal and brutal fifth child.
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