God on the Rocks, Jane Gardam 1978

A finalist for the Booker Prize in 1978, God on the Rocks was Gardam’s second novel.  Most famous for her Old Filth trilogy, Gardam writes with clever wit, sharp eye for the detail, and believable surprise endings that left this reader feeling satisfied and pleased.  The title is a play on words for it refers to the faith of the leading character’s family— an evangelical, literal reading of the Bible—which fails all of them before the book is over.  The tale is told through the eyes of the 8 year old Margaret Marsh, a most winning young lady, and the relationship between her mother and the wealthy Frayling family.  The book is full of colorful characters who swoop in and out of the action, all coming together in the final chapter 12 years after the main action.  The bow is neatly tied on this funny and tragic tale of love, faith, childhood, sexuality,  and old age.  As always in British novels of the last century, WWI lurks in the background as a powerful influence on all the characters.  Gardam is a treat and whether you start with this book or Old Filth, she’s not to be missed.  By the way, she’s still going strong at 91!

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