Tuesday, July 6

Book Review: A Jest of God

Title: A Jest of God

Author: Margaret Laurence

Pages: 215

Summary: 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 Kaazlik, a schoolmate from earlier years, she learns at last to reach out to another person and to make herself vulnerable.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: First of all, the rating is low not because there was a lack of good writing. Margaret Laurence is a phenomenal writer. She truly is one of the “gems” of Canadian writers. There is just something about her prose that allows you to just become lost in her stories. And the story its self, what it’s about focusing on some important issues women face, during this time, what this women faced - feeling smothered by life, caged in by constraints of not being able to do what you wish and not shouting it out to those who are restraining you (work, mother, friends), is an important story to tell, and it was told well. I just couldn’t stand the protagonist.

For me Rachel was just not a character I could connect to or relate to. I didn’t feel sorry for her at all, which I think was the intention of the author. I wanted to shout at this person and tell her to grab the bull by the horns and take life in your own damn hands lady. And for this woman it wasn’t a stretch, for one, tell your mother off. Not in a mean way, but you are a grown woman, so allowing your mother to manipulate the way you feel and what you do needs to stop. At work, I understand her for “giving in”, I guess you could say. At the time the book takes place it was a “mans world” so sticking it to the man (no pun intended, well maybe a bit) could have caused her drastic consequences, but I couldn’t stand how everyone walked all over her. Also, one of her traits, which irked me, is how she constantly though everyone is concerned and judging her on what she does, wears, thinks and where she goes. That is a characteristic I really dislike. I know a lot of people have this to different degrees, but this woman was always so preoccupied with theses thoughts, I wanted to slap her and tell her to enjoy life and what’s happening around you. And the whole affair business bothered me. The guy was a scum bag, I guess in the end it helped her a bit, but I wanted rabid animals to attack him. I found him to be demeaning to her, and she couldn’t see it.

Perhaps all my issues with the protagonist, Rachel is a sign on how well the author did at creating her and telling her story, because I wanted something good to happen to her, I wanted her to come out of her cage, and be free. But, despite my own issues, this is a book that is well worth reading, a lot of others would enjoy it. I just didn’t get everything out of it I’d expected.

Would I recommend it to read: She’s a phenomenal writer, and I enjoyed The Stone Angel when I read it, so she’s worth reading, so I’d recommended her, highly in fact, this particular storyline just bothered me at times because of the protagonist, I couldn’t connect with her. I knew where the author was going, and thought she handled it well and set out a great point, I just couldn’t connect to the character to care enough about her, or be able to put my self in her shoes. Still worth reading, I think there are a lot of readers out there who would enjoy the book.

What to read next:
The other books in the Manawaka Cycle (The Stone Angel - Book 1, The Fire-Dwellers - Book 3, A Bird in the House- Book 4, The Diviners - Book 5.) As you may have guessed this is book 2.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 2nds Challenge, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
A - Z Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge


  1. I think I have a copy of The Stone Angel on my shelf, so I will probably start there. It sounds as if the main character in this book would really annoy me as well, so I am not really sure about this book. I liked your insightful take on it though!

  2. Loved The Stone Angel and especially The Diviners. Haven't read A Jest of God yet. Too bad that Rachel didn't come through for you. Maybe it's the common name...she's no Morag or Hagar :oD

  3. Zibilee - The Stone Angel is worth reading, I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    Teacher/Learner - I never read the diviners, but saw the moving version, and it was well done. I can only hope the book goes beyond. It's a shame she didn't come through, but she does have a hard act to follow.