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God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
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God on the Rocks (original 1978; edition 2010)

by Jane Gardam

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2951938,041 (3.73)58
Member:brewergirl
Title:God on the Rocks
Authors:Jane Gardam
Info:Europa Editions (2010), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Personal collection
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, read2012, england, BOMBS2012

Work details

God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam (1978)

  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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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  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 |
Jane Gardam, I'm going to guess, is an author who you've never heard of. But you should change that right away. I've read 3 of her books now and each one is wonderfully written and the stories are surprising. ( )
  stacykurko | Oct 29, 2015 |
In God on the Rocks bit by vague bit the reader slowly learns more about the relationships, especially between the members of two families within a English seaside town, until it all becomes clear in the end, with a few surprises thrown in for delectable measure. Gardam's prose is limpid, never fussy or overwrought. The dialogue is at times maddeningly, tantalizingly evasive and vague.

Most of the this summer world is viewed through the lens of an eight year old girl, Margaret, whose father insists on a rigidly religious household. Margaret's mother, a fanciful woman, tries to maintain the proprieties expected of the her banker-cum-charismatic-preacher husband, while Margaret at once chaffs at her father's teachings and proselytizes of her own accord. She is certainly a child who often "gets beyond herself" in her vexation with the seemingly queer ideas of adults. However, our omniscient narrator will sometimes shift her focus to other characters such as Margaret's mother Elinor. With these shifts much of that which has only been half understood begins to become clearer.

With the introduction of a voluptuous maid, a new baby in the household, and the return of Elinor's childhood friends to the area, family bonds are stretched to a breaking point.

God on the Rocks is a well paced book full of odd types and underlying mysteries of love, acceptance and change. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
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Because the baby had come, special attention had to be given to Margaret, who was eight.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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