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A Jest of God (New Canadian Library)
ISBN 0771099886 / 9780771099885 / 0-7710-9988-6
Publisher New Canadian Library
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In A Jest of God, the second of Margaret Laurence's Manawaka novels, 34-year-old Rachel Cameron tries as hard as she can to live her life in the shadows. Suffocated by her overbearing mother, with whom she lives in the tiny flat above her late father's funeral parlour, Rachel buries herself in her job as an elementary school teacher and her dreams of escaping Manawaka and her mother. She longs for friendship and affection but is quick to reject any offers. When she gives in to her desires and has her first sexual experiences, she becomes terrified that she's become pregnant even though she also longs to have a child. When her supposed pregnancy turns out to be a benign tumour, Rachel decides she has to get out of Manawaka.
Laurence brilliantly conjures the stifling anxiety that envelops Rachel, and her fears of transgressing the social norm. A Jest of God, which won the 1966 Governor General's Award for fiction, is a provocative and profoundly moving novel about one woman's struggle to escape the strictures of small-town life and become self-reliant and self-confident, and to learn from, rather than be overwhelmed by, those random jests of God. --Jeffrey Canton [via]