Meeting Martha: The Eye of Love

‘A story of the perfect and not so perfect world of perspective—the eye of love.’

With the writing of The Eye of Love, published 1957, Margery Sharp introduced a most unusual heroine named Martha. The author apparently liked her young creation a great deal—‘A compelling portrait of genius’—for she continued Martha’s story in Martha In Paris, and Martha, Eric and George.

These books about a devoted juvenile artist reminds us that Margery Sharp’s other love—perhaps first love—was drawing.

Virago Edition

Sharp reveals little of her own biography to interviewers, but one thing she was candid about: she knew as a young girl, quite decidedly, that she would never become anything but a writer or painter.

The other unusual thing about The Eye of Love is that it is the only Margery Sharp novel that has enjoyed a modern reprint by a major publisher. The new edition is by Virago.

‘…At number 11, however, neither memories nor nostalgia halted her. Martha walked straight in,…crossed a narrow hall smelling of cabbage and wet mackintoshes, (here memory did slightly stir,) and down a flight of stone steps into Ma Battleaxe’s kitchen and private stronghold. It looked just like a witches’ kitchen. There they all were—Ma Battleaxe and Mrs. Hopkinson from next door, and Miss Fish and Miss Jones from further up—average age sixty, personal habits deplorable, whiskery of chin and malevolent of eye.

‘Martha regarded them with pleasure.’ The Eye of Love

Dame Sybil Thorndike, The Forbidden Street

‘Whiskery of chin and malevolent of eye’: Dame Sybil Thorndike, in character for The Forbidden Street, based on Margery Sharp’s Brittania Mews

For what I sometimes call ‘The Martha Series’, I am privileged to present, with her permission, three lovely book reviews by Jane Carter. You may have already discovered her wonderful blog devoted to reading at fleurfisher.com. The first review is here, for The Eye of Love. The other two can be found here:

Martha in Paris

Martha, Eric and George

I can assure you, you have never met a young heroine like Martha! A self-possessed young schoolgirl who cannot stop drawing, and who—as the Librarian puts it, “has unmistakable force of character.”

Each of these books is a standout by itself, and can be read and enjoyed alone. But please do give all three a try!

******************************

Additional information:

First British edition: London, Collins, 1957

First American edition, hardback: Little, Brown of Boston, 1957

Virago edition: 2004

Other excellent reviews on this series can be found at reader’s blogs such as Leaves and Pages, and Reading19001950. 

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