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God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
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God on the Rocks (1978)

by Jane Gardam

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3292150,646 (3.77)62
  1. 00
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Two books set in the English countryside, both about the bizarre side of human behavior.
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» See also 62 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Strange but quite compelling read, set in a 1930s seaside town, where eight-year old Margaret, child of Primal Saints parents, is taken out by the unsuitable maid, Lydia. She sees a different world, with Lydia's liaisons with a man; meanwhile her mother imagines the path her life could have taken with an old flame (who has just returned to town), and her father is starting to see Lydia as more than just a soul to be saved...
The writing is extremely funny at times: "It was brawn and shape for tea." but also has a sadness at the way life turns out. Put me somehow in mind of Beryl Bainbridge's writing. ( )
  starbox | Sep 22, 2018 |
Wish someone would confirm for me what happened at the end. ( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
Written in the 1970s but set forty years earlier, this is one of those quiet, revelatory novels of family secrets and childhood understanding whose sensitivity to melancholy seems so well-suited to that period in Britain between the wars.

It's a lovely novel. Though no passages of writing leapt out at me, I'm left with a strong jumble of impressions of English seaside towns, men picking through the surf with trouser-legs rolled up and knotted handkerchiefs on their head, a heavy sense of memory and lost opportunities, a productive opposition between dogmatic religious fervour and a joyous, fleshy sexuality.

Except for the charming and serious eight-year-old, Margaret, most of the people in here are obsessed with choices they made years before, looking back variously to spoiled romances, to the first War, to when they still had money, to before dementia set in. This sense of looking back is reinforced by an epilogue set after 1945, and the effect is to make all the characters seem clear but also somehow indistinct, impressionistically blurred by memory. They are not unlike figures in a Renoir painting, one of which – perhaps this one – plays a small, pivotal role in the story. Gardam seems like a wise and generous storyteller and I will definitely read more of her. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Dec 2, 2016 |
Another one from the 1978 Booker shortlist. This was a very enjoyable read, but one which seems impossible to compare objectively with the last one I read, Rumours Of Rain - reading the two consecutively just makes you realise what a difficult job the judges have.

Set in a Northern seaside town between the wars, the first part of the book is told from the point of view of Margaret, a precocious eight-year old who is starting to see beyond the strict religious indoctrination she has been brought up with, and the story then widens out to focus on the people around her. A lovely book full of deft comic touches, warmth, wisdom and intriguing perspectives. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 15, 2016 |
Strange social novel from the early 20th century. Not my kind of book at all. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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For Paul Scott, in grateful memory
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Because the baby had come, special attention had to be given to Margaret, who was eight.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
It is with great pleasure that Europa Editions makes this Booker Prize short-listed novel newly available to the legions of Gardam fans.

Originally published in Great Britain in 1978, the novel describes Margaret Marsh¹s coming of age one summer between the world wars. Caught in the backwash of a fervently religious father, a mother bitterly nostalgic for what might have been, the tea and sympathy of some thoroughly secular neighbors and the bawdy jokes of her nanny Lydia, Margaret¹s world hurtles towards a shattering moment of truth. Drama, tragedy and a touch of farce lend themselves to Gardam¹s typically eloquent prose. With subtlety and precision, God on the Rocks provides an intimate portrait of the tensions that divide men and women, present and past, and the love and sorrow that lingers throughout.

Jane Gardam¹s reputation in the United States has been greatly enlarged by the critical acclaim and commercial success garnered by her latest novels, last year¹s Man in the Wooden Hat and her masterpiece Old Filth. Now, newcomers and fans alike can enjoy the pleasure of the splendid writing that established Gardam¹s considerable canon some four decades ago.

~~ From Europa Editions
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Originally published in Great Britain in 1978, the novel describes Margaret Marsh's coming of age one summer between the world wars. Caught in the backwash of a fervently religious father, a mother bitterly nostalgic for what might have been, the tea and sympathy of some thoroughly secular neighbors and the bawdy jokes of her nanny Lydia, Margaret's world hurtles towards a shattering moment of truth. Drama, tragedy and a touch of farce lend themselves to Gardam's typically eloquent prose. With subtlety and precision, God on the Rocks provides an intimate portrait of the tensions that divide men and women, present and past, and the love and sorrow that lingers throughout. --From publisher description.… (more)

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