Revisiting Jane Gardam – God on the Rocks

“Long celebrated in England, Jane Gardam gained legions of American fans with Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat – her most recent critically acclaimed novels.  Now, newcomers and devotees alike can enjoy one of the honored earlier works in her considerable canon.

Originally published in Great Britain in 1973 and nominated for the Booker Prize, God on the Rocks describes Margaret Marsh’s coming of age one summer between the world wars.” …from the book flap of God on the Rocks

When one of my book clubs decided to revisit Gardam with a discussion of Old Filth, I sought out one of her earlier books – God on the Rocks.  Reading one of Gardam’s masterpieces has me yearning for the return of Downton Abbey.

Eight-year-old Margaret is not happy about the invasion of a new baby brother, and her Bible quoting father is not helping.  Lydia, the irreverent maid from Auckland offers some comic relief, but Margaret soon connects with a cast of characters, including a mad painter and her mother’s first love.  True to Gardam form, they are not who they seem.  Although the story is neatly tied up in the last chapter, you are left wanting more.

Gardam has so many phrases that set me laughing out loud, especially one that I will remember and reuse: like Margaret, often “I am beyond myself.”

My reviews of Old Filth  and  The Man in the Wooden Hat