Martha Quest

Martha Quest

Doris Lessing

When we first meet Martha Quest, she is a girl of fifteen living with her parents on a poor African farm. She is eager for life and resentful of the deadening narrowness of home, and escapes to take a job as a typist in the local capital. Here, in the ‘big city’, she encounters the real life she was so eager to know and understand. As a picture of colonial life, ‘Martha Quest’ succeeds by the depth of its realism alone; but always at its centre is Martha, a sympathetic figure drawn with unrelenting objectivity. Martha’s Africa is Doris Lessing’s Africa: the restrictive life of the farm; the atmosphere of racial fear and antagonism; the superficial sophistication of the city. And both Martha and Lessing are Children of Violence: the generation that was born of one world war and came of age in another, whose abrasive relationships with their parents, with one another, and with society are laid bare brilliantly by a writer who understands them better than any other.

Reviews of Martha Quest

    • ‘I read the “Children of Violence” novels and began to understand how a person could write about the problems of the world in a compelling and beautiful way. And it seemed to me that was the most important thing I could ever do.’ Barbara Kingsolver
    • ‘The “Children of Violence” series gives an astounding compression of a total, coherent vision, as if Doris Lessing knew all along where it would end.’ The Times

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