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.
“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.”
L P Hartley
“The life story of one of the most engaging and subtly realised heroines of recent fiction.”
“A remarkable novel… beautifully done.”
“Acute, balanced, and at times brilliantly pure narrative, with a delicacy of insight that adorns everything he touches… A very live and true story.”