Jamie's Reviews > Martha Quest

Martha Quest by Doris Lessing
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Oct 11, 11

bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read from August 27 to October 11, 2011 — I own a copy

For whatever reason, this one took me quite a while to work through, but Lessing has yet to do wrong by me. Martha Quest is a bit of a shit, isn't she? Something like the little sister that frequently pisses you off with her pretentious idealisms and whiny protests against "The Man." (Or maybe something like yourself, five/ten/twenty years ago.) At points, it felt like I was reading an interlude-esque flashback about Anna Wulf (of Lessing's fantastic Golden Notebook), but at others, Martha seems so stunningly herself that you can't really fathom her being anything but what she presents in her narrative. Par for the course, Lessing's psychological insight seems the central strength of the novel. The only thing that fell flat for me was the progression of time in the narrative: near the end of the novel, Martha keeps thinking "How could so many things have changed in only a matter of weeks???" I haven't gone back through to check my dates or anything of that sort, but I wonder whether it's at all logically possible that these events happened in less than a month.

Martha: gets job in town; becomes part of an elite Sports Club crowd; loses interest in job; becomes a bit of a party-animal; makes resolution to be better at job; has a brief tedious affair with an obvious suspect; has another brief less-tedious affair with a culturally-undesirable; becomes socially ostracized because of said second-affair; resolves to change; reverts to old-hat; becomes invested in job; seeks other job; has one other affair; [big spoiler]; end-of-novel. Yeah...this just isn't jiving for me. I haven't been eighteen in, well, almost seven years...but I think my sense of the passage of time was a LEEEEETTLE bit more stable than that.

All damn good, though, in a general sense. I'll certainly plan to read the next one in the series. (Though I may re-read The Golden Notebook before that happens.)

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