We Always Treat Women Too Well
by Raymond Queneau, introduction by John Updike, translated from the French by Barbara Wright
We Always Treat Women Too Well was first published as a purported work of pulp fiction by one Sally Mara, but this novel by Raymond Queneau is a further manifestation of his sly, provocative, wonderfully wayward genius. Set in Dublin during the 1916 Easter rebellion, it tells of a nubile beauty who finds herself trapped in the central post office when it is seized by a group of rebels. But Gertie Girdle is no common pushover, and she quickly devises a coolly lascivious strategy by which, in very short order, she saves the day for king and country. Queneau’s wickedly funny send-up of cheap smut—his response to a popular bodice-ripper of the 1940s—exposes the link between sexual fantasy and actual domination while celebrating the imagination’s power to transmute crude sensationalism into pleasure pure and simple.
We Always Treat Women Too Well, though sufficiently endowed with Queneau's cerebral prankishness, electric pace, and cut-on-the-bias poetry to give glimmers of delight, is a work of casual ambivalence, whole-heartedly neither parody nor thriller, and with a moral by no means as simple as anti-fascism.
— John Updike
We Always Treat Women Too Well, an altogether different work [from Witch Grass], employs some of the same devices: repetition, wordplay, offbeat humor....Written in protest at the enthusiasm present in France for black humor and gangster novels, the novel is filled with graphic violence and sexual scenes that never attempt to be cathartic or prurient.
— Review of Contemporary Fiction