Découvrez votre prochain livre préféré

Devenez membre aujourd'hui et lisez gratuitement pendant 30 jours
Martha, Eric, and George: A Novel

Martha, Eric, and George: A Novel

Lire l'aperçu

Martha, Eric, and George: A Novel

5/5 (1 évaluation)
190 pages
2 heures
Apr 12, 2016


After ten years, a successful painter returns to Paris and the son she left behind on her ex-lover’s doorstep, in Margery Sharp’s sparkling novel that features the artistic heroine of Martha in Paris

After studying with le maître in Paris for a year, Martha returned to England to pursue her artistic destiny. Ten years later, she is an enormous success. But when she returns to Paris to attend an exhibition of her work, she must face some unfinished business she left behind: her ten-year-old son, George. Raised by his doting grandmother and his disinterested father, Eric, George attends his mother’s exhibition and Martha realizes she may well have met her match—a member of the opposite sex who will not let her go through life unencumbered.
Martha, Eric, and George is a witty and poignant novel about the indelible bond between mother and child, and the creative spark that can light up a life.

Apr 12, 2016

À propos de l'auteur

Margery Sharp is renowned for her sparkling wit and insight into human nature, both of which are liberally displayed in her critically acclaimed social comedies of class and manners. Born in Yorkshire, England, Sharp wrote pieces for Punch magazine after attending college and art school. In 1930, she published her first novel, Rhododendron Pie, and in 1938, married Maj. Geoffrey Castle. Sharp wrote twenty-six novels, three of which—Britannia Mews, Cluny Brown, and The Nutmeg Tree—were made into feature films, and fourteen children’s books, including The Rescuers, which was adapted into two Disney animated films.

Lié à Martha, Eric, and George

Livres associé

Catégories liées

Aperçu du livre

Martha, Eric, and George - Margery Sharp



Chapter One


Eric Taylor, returning home to lunch, after the French fashion, from his morning’s work at the City of London (Paris branch) Bank, paused as usual outside the concierge’s lodge. The flat occupied by himself and his mother was on the fourth floor; tradespeople in a hurry frequently left parcels below—also Madame Leclerc the concierge seldom troubled to carry up a letter unless she suspected it to contain bad news. The pause at the lodge was part of Eric’s routine, his words ritual.

Anything for me to take up, Madame Leclerc?

For once, a rare smile curved the thin lips. Employing all her fine Gallic gifts of drama, irony and concision—

Apparently yes, monsieur, replied Madame Leclerc; and issuing burdened from her lodge planted in his arms a carry-cot containing a two-weeks-old infant.


Among all classic images of popular art none is more familiar, and touching, than that of the unmarried mother, babe in arms, at the door of her parents’ home. Typically the season is winter, the dwelling humble: a grandmother weeps, her husband gestures rebarbatively; a fourth character, canine or juvenile, may complete the composition—too familiar, indeed to require further detailing …

But how rarely, if ever, is the central figure depicted as male—an unmarried father!

There were in this case other, minor variations. It wasn’t winter, it wasn’t snowing, it was an uncommonly hot August day. The flat in the rue d’Antibes, though small, was extremely comfortable. No irate father threatened, Mrs. Taylor being a widow. More importantly, psychologically (and which if Eric had indeed been a young woman would have been impossible), he had until that instant no slightest suspicion of his child’s existence. The state of parenthood came upon him so suddenly, he was totally unable to assimilate it; and thus had a moment’s grace.

I say, there’s some mistake! protested Eric—quite lightly.

With a long, bony forefinger like the finger of Fate Madame Leclerc indicated an envelope pinned to the carry-cot’s upper blanket.

It was addressed economically but plainly, C/O MRS. TAYLOR: the letters large, rather flowing, in sanguine chalk such as is used by artists, or artstudents. Even from such limited material a graphologist might have deduced a female character unusually strong-minded, unconventional and independent—and Eric could have told that graphologist he was right.

He whitened. The leech-like eye of Madame Leclerc might have been physically sucking his blood, he so paled. The concierge’s aspect, on the other hand, was rather gay.

Imagine one’s surprise! agreed Madame Leclerc. Preparing one’s mid-day meal, naturally one does not run out at every sound—for a tradesman, the postman, the laundress! But only a moment, I assure monsieur, can the little one have awaited!

As the implication penetrated, Eric if possible went whiter still.

You mean, he articulated, "it was just—left?"

His tone was no longer light. It was appalled. Like all concierges, Madame Leclerc knew far more about her tenants than those tenants could have wished. It was she who from her lodge, some nine or ten months earlier, had seen Eric slip out into the dawn—not unaccompanied. Hitherto she’d held her tongue—she wasn’t one to make trouble!—especially if handsomely tipped; now her glance reminded him of the occasion so explicitly, Eric heard again the betraying click of the lift gates behind himself and his partner in guilt …


The carry-cot in his arms suddenly weighted not only his muscles but his conscience. He hadn’t yet looked inside it; a complex of bundles and blankets still mercifully hid the worst. But that he didn’t drop the whole thing was simply because his clutch had stiffened into a sort of rigor mortis.

Madame Leclerc nodded happily.

As I tell monsieur—not a summons, not a word! Dropped from the skies, one would think, like a little angel!—Save that my husband, added Madame Leclerc, returning for his meal, observed the taxi.

In actor’s parlance, she rather threw the line away; thus lending it (by the method all actors know) peculiar meaning. Eric moistened his stiff lips.

You mean he … saw?

Mademoiselle.—Who else? enquired Madame Leclerc, allowing herself a moment’s playfulness. "He even heard the direction given, to the Gare St. Lazare. ‘Bon voyage!’ cried my innocent husband—and entering discovered the little treasure! Forgive me, monsieur; I confess that my forces failed me; I was unable to perform my duty. Also knowing monsieur’s extreme punctuality—"

Also, of course, she hadn’t meant to be defrauded of the most exciting incident in all her thirty years as concierge. There had once been a suicide on the Fifth, a burglary on the Third; in each case Madame Leclerc gave evidence, for so respectable a house it wasn’t bad, but neither episode could touch, for drama and human interest, the act of placing within the arms of a serious young man his illegitimate offspring. Madame Leclerc’s sensibilities were so fine, she wouldn’t have exchanged the occurrence for even a crime passionel. All she wanted was to prolong the precious moment—but that she perceived Eric to be slightly swaying on his feet. It was the gentle yet ominous movement of a branch over-weighted with snow; one more flake, so to speak, and down would come cradle and baby and all …

Once again displaying those traditional Gallic gifts of drama, irony and concision—

One should not keep one’s dear mother waiting? suggested Madame Leclerc; and with rare amenity moved to open the lift gates.


Eric stumbled in under his burden. He had’t yet begun to think, or not coherently. In any case, what else could he do? He couldn’t, even if his muscles had cooperated, simply drop the carry-cot and flee. He had his job in the City of London (Paris branch) Bank. He had his mother. He had his lunch waiting for him. It wasn’t he who could take a taxi to the Gare St. Lazare … Actually this would have been by far his most sensible course—instant pursuit—but he didn’t realize it until too late.

Madame Leclerc went up with him, to open the gates at the Fourth. (All this time the infant made no sound. Drugged, perhaps? suggested Madame Leclerc chattily.) Willingly too would she have waited, to help Mrs. Taylor bear the shock; unluckily old M. Jacob from the apartment opposite, a tenant as valuable as ill-tempered, at that instant emerged brandishing two soiled shirts and a pair of pyjamas. Aha! You spare me the trouble of descending! roared M. Jacob. Is it you or is it not, Madame Leclerc, who pretends to oversee my laundry? Kindly enter and observe for yourself the condition of my linen-basket! However reluctantly, Madame Leclerc was forced to obey—leaving Eric outside his mother’s door unsupported.

In fact this brief domestic interlude rather steadied him. He had listened to his mother’s complaints so often, of Madame Leclerc’s slackness about collecting laundry, the theme was as cosily familiar as a hymn-tune. He had himself, owing to a slight summer cold, contributed some two dozen handkerchieves to the current Taylor bag; and now in a moment’s lucidity quite rationally hoped they had gone, would come back, and weren’t his best …

He still hadn’t fully grasped his situation. It was natural. He hadn’t had nine months in which to contemplate it, also young men are not accustomed to being loved and left, abandoned to bear alone the consequences of their folly, just as if they were young women. Under the blankets of the carry-cot some small sentient creature undoubtedly drew breath, but to Eric, at this stage, as anonymously as a kitten. Even the immediate problem of what he was going to say to his mother—of what his mother was going to say to him—couldn’t focus his mind. It was difficult enough to get his key out.

His single pertinent thought was still classic.

Oh, God, thought Eric Taylor, "why did this happen to me?"


On the other side of the door Mrs. Taylor had just finished laying lunch. It was her pride, as it was her achievement, that even after three years in Paris her kitchen remained incorruptibly British; on this particularly hot August day there awaited Eric liver and bacon, fried potatoes, and a steamed treacle sponge. Only the bottle of Vichy-water struck a jarring, exotic note; but wine Mrs. Taylor considered heating—and everyone knew what happened to people who drank out of foreign taps.

Dear Eric! thought Mrs. Taylor fondly.

It was the refrain of her entire existence, of a long widowhood resolutely devoted to her only son, her only child. For Eric’s sake, when his night-classes in French fruited in promotion to Paris, she had dismantled an English home, uprooted herself from a whole circle of English friends, without a murmur. It was hard, but it was her duty; not for worlds would she have allowed him to face the perils of Abroad alone. The freehold house at Streatham was sold, all the furniture transported to make a little corner of England in the rue d’Antibes; really only the lawn-mower was left behind, because people in Paris didn’t have gardens, and this was probably what Mrs. Taylor felt most—Eric so enjoyed mowing a lawn, and it was so good for him. But when in due course he rose to Manager, as undoubtedly he would, perhaps a little nook in Passy might afford the same healthful exercise …

And how proud I shall be of him! thought Mrs. Taylor.

She was proud already. No mother could have wished for a better

Vous avez atteint la fin de cet aperçu. Inscrivez-vous pour en savoir plus !
Page 1 sur 1


Ce que les gens pensent de Martha, Eric, and George

1 évaluations / 1 Avis
Qu'avez-vous pensé ?
Évaluation : 0 sur 5 étoiles

Avis des lecteurs

  • (5/5)
    Martha, Eric and George by Margery Sharp ~ 1964. This edition: Collins, 1964. First Edition. Hardcover. 160 pages. My rating: 9/10 From the flyleaf: ‘Why should it always be the woman,’ asked Martha, ‘who’s landed with the little illegit?’ Putting principle into practice, she thus deposited a two-weeks-old infant on the paternal door-step and returned carefree to her proper business of painting masterpieces: vanishing so successfully, indeed, from the lives of both lover and son, that ten years elapsed before the consequences of her misbehaviour caught up with her… Why, indeed? Martha strikes a blow for her sex as she neatly turns the tables on her partner in procreation. Her child, result of a brief dalliance with the illicit pleasures of physical passion (and not to be repeated, as, though most enjoyable, it makes her too tired to get up early and paint) has safely entered the world. Providing him with a layette, a carry-cot and a recipe for formula, Martha proceeds to take her ex-lover Eric at his word – “I want to shoulder all your burdens for you,” Eric has declared in his (scorned) proposal of marriage - and drops this small burden off on the Parisian doorstep of British expatriate Eric and his doting mother. Eric Taylor, returning home to lunch, after the French fashion, from his morning’s work at the City of London (Paris branch) Bank, paused as usual outside the concierge’s lodge. The flat occupied by himself and his mother was on the fourth floor; tradespeople in a hurry frequently left parcels below – also Mme Leclerc the concierge seldom troubled to carry up a letter unless she suspected it to contain bad news. The pause at the lodge was part of Eric’s routine, his words ritual. “Anything for me to take up, Mme Leclerc?” For once, a rare smile curved the thin lips. Employing all her fine Gallic gifts of drama, irony and concision - “Apparently yes, monsieur,” replied Mme Leclerc; and issuing burdened from her lodge planted in his arms a carry-cot containing a two-weeks-old infant. Poor Eric! One does feel for him in his sudden comeuppance, though of course he had no idea that his brief dalliance with Martha had had fruitful results; he did inquire as to Martha’s state once the fling was over, and she brushed him off in typical Martha-manner, so I rather think his disgruntled reaction is justified. If we weren’t clear on the farcical nature of this series before, we certainly get the full picture in this last installment. Eric carries the baby up to his mother, who is, quite naturally, completely blindsided. Out from the covers pushed a tiny, grasping fist like a very small octopus. The nearest object at hand being Mrs. Taylor’s ring-finger, about it the small octopus twined. Now it was her turn to be struck dumb. For what seemed like an age, while the clock on the mantelshelf ticked, while on the table the liver-and-bacon congealed, mother and son gazed at each other in equal silence, equal consternation, indeed equal incredulity. (Disbelief: the instinctive, protective human reaction before disaster.) But the small octopus-hand insisted. Mrs. Taylor stooped; pulled a lap of blanket aside; and raised a face white as her son’s. “Eric!” breathed Mrs. Taylor. “Whose is it?” Actually the question was superfluous. It is an accepted if inexplicable fact that an infant during the very first weeks of its existence may show a marked resemblance to one or other parent. In this case, the tiny countenance now revealed was an uncanny, crumpled miniature of Eric’s own. It simply looked much older: an image of Eric in toothless senility. – Not that the latter more than glanced: by this time he was … sure. “It’s mine all right,” agreed Eric Taylor. Now Mrs. Taylor surprises us by her reaction. Rather than being appalled by this incontrovertible evidence of her son’s amorous activities, she is instead thrilled to the core “Oh, my darling, it’s a boy!” she cries in delight. And, “Gran’s little treasure!” she croons, to Eric’s deep disgust and abiding dismay. Here we get another glimpse of Margery Sharp’s cynical wit. The moment was far too delightful to spoil by thinking about Martha, so Mrs. Taylor didn’t. This involved no particular feat of will-power, merely a complete if unconscious surrender to wishful thinking. To possess a grandchild without the encumbrance of a daughter-in-law is many a grandmother’s unadmitted dream. “Dear Anne, dear Lucy, dear Susan!” cry the grandmothers – happy to welcome with small bottles of Chanel No. 5 at Christmas each necessary transmitter of a family face; but even happier to water with easy tears a rose-bush on an early grave… Certainly Mrs. Taylor didn’t hope Martha was dead, even though she’d never really liked the girl. (In any case, as she’d learned from Mme Leclerc, Martha was obviously alive that morning. It would have had to be a very sudden accident.) Mrs. Taylor simply forgot Martha: indeed, so all-absorbing was the sheer physical pleasure of holding a baby again… So the stage is set. Martha’s baby, quickly named George, is well provided for. His father becomes very much a background figure; in a turning of tables, the unmarried father takes on a role usually reserved for the mother in such a situation. A figure of mildly ribald amusement among his compatriots, Eric faces social ostracism, and, worse yet, is passed over for his expected promotion. He is no longer seen as quite so “above reproach” to qualify for a higher position in the Bank of London (Paris branch), though fortunately for him there is no thought of terminating his employment entirely. Martha has returned to England, there to hone her artistic skills and single-mindedly become an accomplished mistress of her art. Still sponsored and nurtured by paternal Mr. Joyce, Martha’s genuine genius blossoms. Ten years of hard, creative work pass by, and at last Martha is deemed ready to risk a solo exhibition in that mecca of the art world, Paris. The reunion of Martha and Eric, and young George, fully meets our expectations, but there are a few surprises in store. The ending is delicately poignant; Martha redeems herself, emotionally speaking, by showing that she does have a certain sensitivity hidden by her brusque exterior. A most satisfying conclusion, despite the deathbed scene. I hugely enjoyed this trilogy. (I still think this should be published as an omnibus; too cruel if you can’t get your hands on the complete set!) Highly recommended for the Margery Sharp fan, or anyone desiring a cleverly satirical literary diversion. Side note: I love the cover illustration of this edition. Jillian Willet captures perfectly a rather mysterious and moody feeling of foreboding; the child in the foreground (young George?) strides sturdily towards the vaguely menacing figures partially obscured by the park’s trees. The geometric shadowing pays homage to Martha’s vision of the world as a series of shapes; the whole is a deeply satisfying composition.