Joyce Cary: Herself Surprised

The latest addition to my website is Joyce Cary‘s Herself Surprised. This is the first in a trilogy which primarily aims to give, in each volume, the points of view of the three main characters. This one gives the point of view of Sara Monday. She starts as a housekeeper, marries the son of the house, has four daughters with him, but is broke, when he dies with many debts. In the meantime she has met Gulley Jimson, the key character of the trilogy, an artist, wife-beater, reprobate, scrounger, and, from the perspective of the reader, an unlovable man. However, he is fiercely independent, painting what he wants, even when given a paid commission. His talent is open to question many times during the book – most people do not like his work – but he has much support and even has a painting in the Tate Gallery. However, Sara continues to support and help him throughout the book, even coming close to marrying him and only not doing so when she finds out he is already married. Even when she is working as a housekeeper for Wilcher, the third key character of the trilogy, she helps Jimson, stealing from her employer to finance him, with disastrous consequences. But it is Jimson that makes this book and the other two books of the trilogy – the not very lovable rogue.

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