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Martha Quest (Perennial Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Doris Lessing
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $9.78
You Save: $5.21 (35%)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 69%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Book Description

Intelligent, sensitive, and fiercely passionate, Martha Quest is a young woman living on a farm in Africa, feeling her way through the torments of adolescence and early womanhood. She is a romantic idealistic in revolt against the puritan snobbery of her parents, trying to live to the full with every nerve, emotion, and instinct laid bare to experience. For her, this is a time of solitary reading daydreams, dancing -- and the first disturbing encounters with sex. The first of Doris Lessing's timeless Children of Violence novels, Martha Quest is an endearing masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews


'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

About the Author

Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, Doris Lessing was one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of our time, the recipient of a host of international awards, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the David Cohen Memorial Prize for British Literature, the James Tait Black Prize for best biography, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize and Prix Catalunya, and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature.

Lessing was born of British parents in Persia on October 22, 1919, and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia when she was five years old. She went to England in 1949, where she published her first book, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer. In 1962, she broke new ground with her novel The Golden Notebook. She wrote more than thirty books—among them the novels Martha Quest, The Fifth Child, and her last work Alfred and Emily; stories, reportage, poems, and plays; and several nonfiction works, including books about cats, and two volumes of autobiography, Walking in the Shade and Under My Skin. She died on November 17, 2013. Her portrait hangs in London's National Portrait Gallery.

Product Details

  • File Size: 500 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 006095969X
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (December 22, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,784 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
i can't quite fathom why this series is not more widely discussed and celebrated, can only be enormously grateful to the bookstore clerk who was so enamored of it she approached me on some instinct as i browsed the woolf section and said, "you have to read lessing's 'children of violence' series"..i read through all five novels and was struck by lessing's extraordinary insight into the mind (and heart) of young women: with martha quest, the literary characterization of the young woman emerged from half-told shadows in full astounding complexity. this alone makes the series significant. add to that lessing's brilliant writing about organizational politics and psychology, landscape, history, etc etc, and this series is truly a masterpiece. read it, pass it on to friends, read it again.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing Martha Quest June 30, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We meet Martha Quest as a resentful 15 year old girl, growing up on a farm in Africa. As noted adequately here, this is the first book in her Children of Violence series-- held by many to be Lessings most important body of work (with the exception of _The Golden Notebook_).
I'm one of these Lessing fans from back in the day when _The Golden Notebook_ changed my life, and I haven't read much of her other work. I was impressed by Martha Quest-- it falls in the category of our classic coming-of-age novels, and as such stands well on its own as a novel. Lessing's Martha is at times so frustrating you want to shake her, but I think that's typical for the age of the character portrayed. Martha is all sharp edges-- she can't seem to fit with her parents, the men around her, the people with whom she tries to interact. With the blindness of her age, she's able to acutely feel how hard she has it, without really feeling the struggle of others around her who may have an even more difficult time. By turns infuriating and attractive, it can be painful to read Quest's story precisely because so it's so human as to be disturbingly familiar.
A should-read book.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. November 30, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Doris Lessing remains one of my favorite writers. I first fell in love with her work when I read The Golden Notebook in college, as you do. I'm still slowly working my way through her complete novels.

I really enjoyed Martha Quest, the first book in the Children of Violence. But I was deeply moved by A Proper Marriage. Take the bright young things of a Fitzgerald novel, give them sweat, hangovers and physicality and put them in a troubled country on the eve of a World War. If you can imagine that, then you have a little bit of an idea about A Proper Marriage.

There's something so smart and complicated about the way that Lessing develops Martha in this book. Her disaffection with the excesses of the left lead her into a middle class life, even as her sympathies lie elsewhere. Relationships, war, child-bearing and the colour bar are all woven together into a book that somehow manages to bear the weight of the themes while still givng the reader a very human tale.

Lessing is a simply amazing writer. She works with complex ideas and communicates them without simplifying. Her writing is always lovely and human. A Proper Marriage is one of the best examples of her work. I think that it adds richness if you begin with Martha Quest, but the book can stand on its own right.

Recommended both for fans of Lessing's work and people new to her work.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital stuff August 16, 2000
The greatest purchase I ever made in my life was when I picked up a copy of 'African Stories' for $1.75 at a used bookstore in Hollywood. The 30 short stories in that book represented some of the most ecstatic writing I had read since Nabokov and Stendhal. To this day it remains my favorite book. The first two parts of 'Children of Violence'--'Martha Quest' and 'A Proper Marriage'--are like an expansion of some of those stories and a comprehensive analysis of everything that can possibly happen within and without the psyche of a young girl becoming a woman in Southern Africa. I'm not exaggerating when I say that almost every page of these two books is a revelation. They're works of genius pure and simple. In fact, no psychologist could've dug this far. Read them or suffer a permanent lack.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Martha's Quest Continues June 1, 2001
In Doris Lessing's second "Children of Violence" series *A Proper Marriage*, we discover that Martha, in marrying Douglas, becomes even more torn in her quest to attain full stature as a woman. Martha, in this story, not only has to reconcile her self to the causes she believes in, to her marriage with Douglas Knowell, and to motherhood, but also to the townspeople with whom she becomes entwined. Another delight of this novel for me is the way Lessing has Martha look at both individual and group dynamics throughout the story, providing seductively keen insight. Lessing's writing promises tension, suspense, and wonder for the engaged reader. *A Proper Marriage* sequels *Martha Quest* in which many of the delights in the first of the series continue on to the second, including the beautiful way Lessing mirrors Martha's interior life with the exotic and varied African natural and elemental landscape. I would recommed reading *Martha Quest* first in order to more fully appreciate *A Proper Marriage.*
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Doris Lessing not only show great courage to write about issues that...
Doris Lessing not only show great courage to write about issues that subsequently made her an outcast in her country, but she showed amazing skill at giving different perspectives... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Joan Warnock
5.0 out of 5 stars great book.
Brings one into a world of how a relationship is experienced by those in it and around it. You witness the pull of the environment on options and final choices.
Published 5 months ago by Jane A. Dancison
1.0 out of 5 stars Tough Times in Africa
This saga of young woman in South Africa, her disastrous marriage and general malaise and floundering about with equally discontent women has some good writing, but not enough to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Doris Murray Kuhns
5.0 out of 5 stars Martha Quest
I grew up in a colonial African country and thought Doris Lessing captured the atmosphere of those times very well. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Allan Kelly
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle versions of "Martha Quest" & "A Proper Marriage" are rife with...
I love this book, and the entire series. I had read them a couple times over twenty years ago, and wanted to read them again, so I pulled out my old paperbacks, but they were... Read more
Published 7 months ago by BMPF
4.0 out of 5 stars Martha's Quest Continues...
Doris Lessing followed up her introduction of the Martha Quest character in her eponymous 1952 novel with A Proper Marriage two years later. Read more
Published 7 months ago by M. Buzalka
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
A disturbing window on a society entering World War 2 and the position of women at that time and place
Published 9 months ago by Lyndal Coote
5.0 out of 5 stars moulding characters
Anyone who wants to see fully developed and moulded characters, and who can visualize society at the time in which the book is written, would love any of Doris Lessings' books. Read more
Published 10 months ago by danacucan
4.0 out of 5 stars So rich in exploration of the human condition, it can almost be too...
But you should probably read it anyway! Doris Lessing is a great writer and there is a reason she won the Nobel prize for literature. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Irish girl in hong kong
5.0 out of 5 stars A late discovery of a brilliant mind
Having never read Lessing until this book, I was immediately in recognition of her genius. As with Faulkner, Wharton and Wolff, her ability to freeze a moment in time and delve... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Edward
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