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The Old Jest by Jennifer Johnston
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The Old Jest (1979)

by Jennifer Johnston

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In 1920, 18-year old Nancy Gulliver befriends a mysterious stranger and unwittingly becomes involved in the bloody conflict between the English and the Irish. (Nancy Pearl)
1 vote JESGalway | Apr 25, 2018 |
2658 The Old Jest, by Jennifer Johnston (read 5 Oct 1994) (Whitbread Book of the Year for 1979) This 1980 novel is laid in 1920, near Dublin. Nancy Gulliver, 18, comes to know a man, about 50, who is working for the Irish. He has Nancy take a message to a boy, which sets up the death of 12 British soldiers, and Nancy is present when the British get the man. The book is beautifully written, but does not have the kick, except at the end, which Shadows on Our Skin and How Many Miles to Babylon? have. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Mar 31, 2008 |
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For D.J.T.G. with love
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5 August 1920
Momentous day. The sun is shining. That in itself is not momentous—merely, for August, surprising.
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Winner of the Whitbread Literary Award for Best Novel: In the wake of the Great War, a young woman's life is turned upside down when she befriends a soldier of the grisly struggle on Ireland's horizon Nancy lives with her aunt and ailing grandfather in a seaside town not far from Dublin. Eighteen and about to go to university, Nancy has spent her summer consumed in part by unrequited thoughts of her first love, Harry, a man eight years her senior. Nancy's one haven is the beach, where she has discovered an abandoned hut and claimed it as her personal sanctuary. One day, she arrives there to find that her inner sanctum has been invaded by a grizzled and desperate-looking man whom she names Cassius. An IRA foot soldier on the run, Cassius becomes something of a father figure to Nancy, and in a pivotal moment she agrees to deliver a message for him-a decision that will change her life forever. A beautiful coming-of-age novel set against the nascent Irish Troubles, The Old Jest is an award-winning portrait of loyalty, loss, and of one fateful encounter that propels a young woman into adulthood.… (more)

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