Join us

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Newsletter

The Boston Globe: "Gardam orchestrates the subtle evolution of character and plot with Olympian omniscience and wry humor."

Date: Nov 28 2010

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }@font-face { font-family: "Georgia"; }@font-face { font-family: "Garamond"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Reviewed by Amanda Heller for The Boston Globe


First published some 30 years ago, “God on the Rocks’’ has been reissued as a sort of terminus a quo for the astringent, immaculately detailed storytelling of Jane Gardam (“Old Filth,’’ “The Man in the Wooden Hat’’), a national treasure in Britain who is only late in her career gaining a following in this country.

 

The novel opens on a summer day in the 1930s in a seaside town in northern England. Eight-year-old Margaret Marsh, an alarmingly wise child whose nose has been put out of joint by the arrival of a baby brother, is temporarily pacified by the promise of an excursion with Lydia, the family’s new maid. A bold and blowsy young woman, Lydia proves to be a shock to the Marshes’ system, especially to Margaret’s father, a stern and, as it turns out, utterly hypocritical Christian fundamentalist. The ripples radiating from that shock carry us backward to Margaret’s mother’s youth, to a path not taken and now bitterly regretted, and forward to unforeseen, accidental, but somehow perfectly inevitable developments and complications.

 

Gardam orchestrates the subtle evolution of character and plot with Olympian omniscience and wry humor.