Debra's Reviews > A Jest of God

A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence
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Oct 28, 11

bookshelves: mainstream-literary-fiction
Read from October 17 to 25, 2011

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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