Friday, 12 February 2010

The jest of God (Laurence) 252

I wrote recently about how much I loved Laurence's Stone Angel, so it wasn't long before I read the other Margaret Laurence I had waiting on my bookshelf. It turns out that Stone Angel wasn't exactly part of a trilogy, but is part of a cycle of books set in the Manitoba town of Manawaka, a fictional Canadian town, loosely based on the town where Laurence lived. The jest of God is the second book in the sequence.

Equally wonderful as The stone angel, The jest of god is a very different tale although there were some elements of similarity. Rachel, the main character, is a Grade 2 teacher, who has returned to the town to live with her somewhat manipulative widowed mother. The old age theme of The stone angel recurs as Rachel lives with her elderly mother and finds herself limited by her preoccupations and difficulties. The main part of the story deals with Rachel meeting Nick, a man who grew up in a different area of Manitoba, who is visiting his parents for the summer. Rachel is extremely naieve, having never had a proper relationship, and it is obvious to the reader, if not to Rachel, what Nick is after. It's very much a book about a woman's emotional journey told through everyday events, but I absolutely loved it.

The book has also been filmed as "Rachel Rachel" with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, but sadly it doesn't seem to be available over here. Very keen to read the other two Margaret Laurence VMCs, so hopefully they will cross my path soon.

Just the one green VMC cover for this item; I am wondering if I should try to persuade Virago to reprint Margaret Laurence as it is a shame that she is not more widely known.


  1. Hi - I just picked up a copy of The Winged Horse by Pamela Frankau (for 75 cents!) which I would be happy to send along to you if you haven't already bought it. Sorry to put it in the comments, I couldn't find a way to e-mail you directly.

  2. Hi Heather - that would be very kind - I read The willow cabin and loved that! Email is verityDOTormeATgmailDOTcon