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A Jest of God (1966)

por Margaret Laurence

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Manawaka cycle (2)

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7432030,245 (4.03)116
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.… (mais)
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Great read. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Sep 4, 2019 |
34 year old Rachel is a "spinster" (how she thinks of herself) in a small Canadian plains town. She dropped out of college to care for her demanding semi-invalid mother after her father's death. Years later, she is still caring for her mother and teaching elementary school.

The entire novel is essentially an internal dialogue in Rachel's head. She's very repressed and self-conscious. In her mind she's constantly questioning the meaning of other people's words or actions towards herself, wondering if she's made some kind of mistake or acted wrongly. Rachel makes a very interesting character study.

Then one summer, a "wild" boy from her high school days returns to town, and he and Rachel begin to see each other. Of course, their motives are completely at odds. Rachel in her naivetee hopes for marriage and a family, but for Nick she's just a way to pass the time during a summer visit to his family.

I loved Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, a similar character study, but of an elderly woman. This was also good, but not quite as good as Stone Angel. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 19, 2019 |
Skumjš un mānīgi vienkāršs stāsts par sievieti, kas baidās pat no savas ēnas. Noslēgums, iespējams, pārāk sasteigts, bet iespaids - neizdzēšams. ( )
  Ilzezita | Feb 6, 2019 |
When I first picked up the book I saw the word compassion written on the back description. It seemed a bit tacky and superficial, one of those words that critics stick in their review for want of something (ANYthing) to write. However, the book is permeated with it. You can feel the authors deep and true compassion for her characters even as she makes fun of them. ( )
  Firewild | Jan 3, 2019 |
Rachel Cameron is a shy, thirty-four-year-old school teacher, leading a life of stifling conventionality in the small Canadian town she grew up in. Years before she had made a brief escape to attend college, but returned to live with and care for her mother following her father’s death. They live in the flat above the funeral directors that her father had once owned. Mrs Cameron (like Hagar Shipley in The Stone Angel) is a wonderfully drawn character, a coyly manipulative terror she is overbearing and demanding. Rachel’s older sister Stacey escaped – married now, living in the city with four children, she very rarely visits.

Each year, Rachel silently directs her love toward one of the pupils in her class of seven-year olds (as the novel opens it is young James) although she goes to very great lengths to make sure no one guesses. Rachel is in part surprised to find herself teaching in the school where she was once a child – there is a definite feeling that she has not had the opportunity to move her life forward, stuck still in the landscape of her childhood.

“I remember myself skipping rope to that song when I was about the age of the little girls out there now. Twenty-seven years ago, which seems impossible, and myself seven, but the same brown brick building, only a new wing added and the place smartened up. It would certainly have surprised me then to know I’d end up here…”

Rachel’s one friend in the town, is Calla; a kind hearted fellow teacher who dresses oddly, calls Rachel child, and is a member of the Tabernacle church where worshippers have recently begun speaking in tongues. Calla exacts a promise from Rachel to attend a future meeting with her, and Rachel is torn between the knowledge of how excruciating she will find it – and not wanting to hurt Calla’s feelings. The evening, when it finally happens is even worse than Rachel had anticipated, affecting her powerfully and emotionally in a way she finds acutely embarrassing.

Rachel has a powerful inner life – she is sharp, intelligent and an astute observer of those around her, the children, the school principle, Calla and her mother.

“Nothing is clear now. Something must be the matter with my way of viewing things. I have no middle view. Either I fix on a detail and see it as though it were magnified – a leaf with all its veins perceived, the fine hairs on a man’s hands – or else the world recedes and becomes blurred, artificial, indefinite, an abstract painting of a world. The darkening sky is hugely blue, gashed with rose, blood, flame from the volcano or wound or flower of the lowering sun. The wavering green, the sea of grass, piercingly bright. Black tree trunks, contorted, arching over the river.”

There are moments when she isn’t as kind as he would like to be, dimly aware of being unkind toward Calla’s friendliness, she then feels guilty for her sharpness. However, Rachel is also vulnerable, caught still in the life of her childhood, ministering to her mother and living a life of quiet, conventionality. Deep down, Rachel harbours more than a little resentment for the life she is leading, making sandwiches and serving coffee at her mother’s bridge parties, accompanying her mother to church – where she would in fact rather not go at all. Inside, Rachel isn’t quite the quiet, dutiful small town spinster school teacher that she appears.

As Rachel says goodbye to her class of children for the summer holidays, another former child of the town returns. Nick Kazlik; the son of the town’s Ukrainian milkman, returns for the summer. Nick is a high school teacher in the city, to where he will soon return. The two embark upon a passionate relationship. Nick’s attitude to their relationship is much more casual than Rachel’s. Rachel is more like a gauche young school girl than a woman in her thirties – unpractised in the ways of love and sex. Nick visits the scenes of his childhood and adolescence with Rachel, haunted a little by the memory of his twin brother who died several years earlier. As Rachel grows in sexual confidence, she becomes more reliant on Nick, worrying when he doesn’t ring for several days, even imaging a future for the two of them.

A Jest of God is beautifully written, a sympathetic, tender novel which sees Rachel come to a new understanding about herself, and her standing with her difficult mother. A thoroughly beautiful novel, Margaret Laurence is someone I shall be reading much more of.

I have The Diviners tbr – which I believe is the fourth or fifth novel in the Manawaka sequence – though I assume it doesn’t matter in which order they are read. ( )
1 vote Heaven-Ali | Nov 25, 2017 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (5 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Margaret Laurenceautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Dijk, Edith vanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Killam, G. D.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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If I should pass the tomb of Jonah
I would stop there and sit for awhile;
Because I was swallowed one time deep in the dark
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They are not actually chanting my name, of course. I only hear it that way from where I am watching at the classroom window, because I remember myself skipping rope to that song when I was about the age of the little girls out there now.
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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.

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