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A Jest of God (Phoenix Fiction) Paperback – November 15, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Fresh and arresting…unforgettably good and nothing less than brilliant.”
Maclean’s

“Superb and movingly human.”
Saturday Review


From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

In this celebrated novel, Margaret Laurence writes with grace, power, and deep compassion about Rachel Cameron, a woman struggling to come to terms with love, with death, with herself and her world.

Trapped in a milieu of deceit and pettiness ? her own and that of others ? Rachel longs for love, and contact with another human being who shares her rebellious spirit. Through her summer affair with Nick Kazlik, a schoolmate from earlier years, she learns at last to reach out to another person and to make herself vulnerable.

A Jest of God won the Governor General?s Award for 1966 and was released as the successful film, Rachel, Rachel. The novel stands as a poignant and singularly enduring work by one of the world?s most distinguished authors. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Fiction
  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226469522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226469522
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,008,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Jest of God epitomises Margaret Laurence's focus on characters whose stories are usually never told. The protagonist, Rachel, is a spinster school-teacher in small town Manitoba. She is stifled both by her closed community and by internalising their pettiness.
Rachel's inner-dialogue sets the claustophobic atmosphere, while also being funny, frustrating and moving. Laurence's portrait of an ordinairy woman coming to terms with herself and with surroundings is flawless and highly readable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
At first I thought of Rachel as paranoid and on the edge of sanity; however, by the end of the novel she has found her self and her voice. Her thoughts and feelings towards her mother and sister are so realistic, even if they seem unsettling at times. It was enlightening to be a part of her journey towards self-discovery and strength.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on June 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is not the first time I've read Canadian writer Margaret Laurence's fine novel, A JEST OF GOD. But it's probably been at least twenty years since I last read it and it has lost nothing in the interim. Laurence's probing of the single life and the kind of "quiet desperation" Thoreau once wrote about will make you stop and reconsider those people you know who live alone, or with aging parents. School teacher Rachel Cameron is a character you don't forget, and may want to revisit from time to time, as I have. Because her secret, inner life - as demonstrated in her interior monologues and fantasies - are as important, if not more so, than her actual life, which seems pretty bleak. Thirty-four, Rachel lives with her hypochondriac whiny mother upstairs over the funeral parlor once operated by her late father, teaches second grade in a school presided over by a principal who is a secret sadist, and has a brief loveless affair one summer with a former resident of the town who is there to see his parents. The story is told in the first person and the reader is privy to Rachel's most private and intimate thoughts, and THIS is what makes this ordinary tale of loneliness and desperation so very EXTRAordinary.

As I was reading Laurence's book, a minor Canadian classic, I was rememinded of another more recent novel, also by a Canadian, Elizabeth Hay's Alone in the Classroom, which I enjoyed equally. And I wondered if Hay would count Laurence as an important influence in her own development as a writer. I must try to remember to ask her.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debra Purdy Kong on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Thirty-four-old school teacher Rachel Cameron is living a quiet life with her mother in the small Manitoba town of Manawaka. It's not a town where much happens and when it does, everyone knows. The return of an old school friend, Nick Kazlik, adds some spark to Rachel's life, but these are the early 60's, a time where proper women do not follow through on their deepest wishes and needs without repercussions. Rachel embarks on an affair with Nick, her heart and body telling her that this is right and wonderful, while her thoughts are filled with fear about getting caught, or worse, pregnancy.

Rachel's conflicted emotions and desires drive the plot and tension as she copes with her passive-aggressive mother, and the school principal she barely tolerates. Doing the right thing in Rachel's world means living an incredibly lonely life, which lead to moments of desperation. Should she continue to fulfill the expectations placed on her, or is there a way to break free?

A Jest of God is a beautifully written book by Canadian literary icon, Margaret Laurence. It's been over twenty years since I read a Laurence novel, and her writing flows with the same seamless elegance I remember. I wasn't surprised to learn that this book won the Governor General's Award in 1966. Laurence's work will continue to withstand the test of time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debra K Brown on June 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book reminds me of The Awakening. The two women both become acutely aware of their sexuality in their 30's when most people have already married and have children. Their naïve ideas are more like a very young girl having her first sexual experience than a mature women. The monolog that continues all through A Jest of God is a very different writing approach letting you know what the main character is constantly thinking and feeling although not saying. I really like the way this work was presented by the author.
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