“A deeply impressive novel by an author whose growth has been continuous and whose stature makes so much contemporary fiction seem sadly thin by comparison.”–The New Yorker
Francois Mauriac–who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952–is famous for his subtle character portraits of the French rural classes and for depicting their struggles, aspirations, and traditions. The Woman of the Pharisees–one of Mauriac’s most accomplished novels–is a penetrating evocation of the moral and religious values of a Bordeaux community. In Brigitte, we see how the ideals of love and companionship are stifled in the presence of a self-righteous woman whose austere religious principals lead her to interfere–disastrously–in the lives of others. One by one the unwitting victims fall prey to the bleakness of her “perfection.” A conscientious schoolteacher, a saintly priest, her husband and stepdaughter and an innocent schoolboy are all confronted with tragedy and upheaval. But the author’s extraordinary gift for psychological insight goes on to show how redeeming features inevitably surface from disaster. The unfolding drama is seen through the discerning eye of a young Louis–Brigitte’s stepson–whose point of view is skillfully blended into the mature and understanding adult he later becomes.