"This may constitute one of the outstanding literary achievements of our time."
So said The New Republic, reviewing the first two novels in the Children of Violence series, published here in 1964.
This ambitious and brilliantly successful portrayal of a woman of our times - her private emotional life, her uneasy relationship to established society, her involvement with the world of ideas and causes - is now continued. The new volumes follow Martha Quest through the 1940s - through the war, a grotesque second marriage, the embracing of Communism, the decision to leave Africa for a new life in England.
Martha herself - a child of violence born at the end of one war, brought up in the atmosphere of preparation for the next - is the center of the novel, drawn with a richness, a seriousness, an irony, that give her the solidity and reality of the great Nineteenth Century novel heroines. Around her, presented with extraordinary density of detail and sureness of touch, lies her world: the underground, exciting, muddled world of the Communist cell that engages Martha through the war and eventually disappoints her; and outside that secret world, the complex, changing society of Anglo-Africa that both fascinates and repels her.
The five novels that comprise Children of Violence - four now published, and the last being written - can of course be read singly. Together, they form an important literary effort, perhaps the essential work by the writer the London Times called not only the best woman novelist we have, but one of the most serious and intelligent and hones writers of the whole postwar generation.