The Wife of Martin Guerre
by Janet Lewis and Kevin Haworth
Ohio University Press, 1967
Paper: 978-0-8040-0321-6

This compelling story of Bertrande de Rols is a rich novella with the timeless power of a fable. It was based on a famous story of a court case in mid-16th century France.Janet Lewis depicts a distant time and a traditional, rural culture based on a highly ordered patriarchal structure. When "Martin Guerre" returns from a quest after eight years, the family embraces him, and Bertrande is swept up in the relief at the apparent return to the security of the old order.But Martin has changed, and Bertrande threatens the established order with her defiant quest for the truth. Once the accusation of false identity is laid formally and the trial process begins. Many witnesses are called. Bertrande is pressured to withdraw, and she herself is reluctant to see "Martin" executed.Finally, the real, battle-weary Martin stumbles into the courtroom and is instantly recognized. He shows no mercy to Bertrande for allowing herself to be deceived. The real facts emerge, but the fate of Bertrande and Martin remains open-ended.

In this new edition of Janet Lewis’s classic short novel, The Wife of Martin Guerre, Swallow Press executive editor Kevin Haworth writes that Lewis’s story is “a short novel of astonishing depth and resonance, a sharply drawn historical tale that asks contemporary questions about identity and belonging, about men and women, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.” Originally published in 1941, The Wife of Martin Guerre has earned the respect and admiration of critics and readers for over sixty years.

Based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France, this story of Bertrande de Rols is the first of three novels making up Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence suite (the other two are The Trial of Sören Qvist and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron).

Swallow Press is delighted and honored to offer readers beautiful new editions of all three Cases of Circumstantial Evidence novels, each featuring a new introduction by Kevin Haworth.

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