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Sacred FireMaud Martha was the first novel by world_class poet Gwendolyn Brooks. It is the story of a woman with doubts about herself and her place in an indifferent world. It is also a story of triumph, the triumph of the lowly. Through Brooks's straightforward and honest portrayal of the novel's heroine, the reader is forced to come face_to_face with Maud Martha and recognize that her essence resides deep within every one of us. Within this honest and intimate story of one woman's struggles and failures, Brooks's incandescent poetic language shines through.
The book is not driven by any specific plot, but collects thirty_four vignettes from Martha's life, taking her from age seven to the time of her second pregnancy. Brooks focuses on Martha's domestic life, first as a child, then a wife, then a mother. Through the seemingly small but poetically described incidents of Martha's life, we see how her childhood dreams meet with disappointing results because she is crippled by her own poor self-worth and the incompatibility of her desires and her reach.
Critic David Littlejohn said of the book: Maud Martha is a striking human experiment.., a powerful, dagger of a book, as generous as it can possibly be. It teaches more . . . than a thousand pages of protest. Brooks herself has said that much of Maud Martha is autobiographical. She didn't want to write about somebody who turned out to be a star cause most people don't turn out to be stars. And yet their lives are just as sweet and just as rich as any others and often they are richer and sweeter.