Literary & General
French, German, Italian
Joyce Cary was born in 1888 into an old Anglo-Irish family. He studied art before going up to Trinity College, Oxford, in 1909 to read law. On coming down he served as a Red Cross orderly in the Balkan War of 1912-13, the inspiration for Memoir of the Bobotes , before joining the Nigerian Political Service. He served in the Nigeria Regiment during the First World War, was wounded while fighting, and returned to civil duty in Nigeria as a district officer. His time in Africa provided the inspirat...
Herself Surprised is the story of Sara Monday, a former housemaid who tells of "her grand days" and of all her "coming down days since." Looking back from a prison cell on a life that covers the first half of the 20th century, Sara introduces a gallery of vivid characters: her timid and doting husband, Mr. Monday; Rozzie, her hard-boiled friend; her various lovers including the brilliant but dangerously violent painter Gully Jimson and the miserly lawyer Tom Wilcher. In Sara, an irrepressible, sexually magnetic woman, at once manipulated and generous to a fault, Cary has created a complex and wonderfully realised character - one of the most memorable in twentieth-century fiction.
"In this central novel of his triptych Cary brilliantly inhabits the interior voice of his protagonist Sara Monday, an uneducated housekeeper, as she tries to make sense of her life while in prison for theft, through a miasma of self-deception." -Maureen Duffy, Best Books, The Week "There seems to be more truth of human nature, a profounder understanding of the springs of action than in any novel I have read for a long time." -LP Hartley "The life story of one of the most engaging and subtly realised heroines of recent fiction." -Atlantic Monthly "A remarkable novel…beautifully done." -Howard Spring, Country Life "Acute, balanced, and at times brilliantly pure narrative, with a delicacy of insight that adorns everything he touches…A very live and true story." -Times Literary Su...