A Jest of God

Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1966.

Margaret Laurence

Trapped in a milieu of deceit and pettiness — her own and that of others — Rachel Cameron longs for love, and contact with another human being who shares her rebellious spirit. Through her summer affair with Nick Kazlik, a schoolmate from earlier years, she learns at last to reach out to another person and to make herself vulnerable.

A Jest of God won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1966 and was released as the successful film, Rachel, Rachel. The novel stands as a poignant and singularly enduring work by one of the world's most distinguished authors. (From the publisher)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

The wind blows low, the wind blows high

The snow comes falling from the sky,

Rachel Cameron says she'll die

For the want of the golden city.

She is handsome, she is pretty,

she is the queen of the golden city —

They are not actually chanting my name, of course. I only hear it that way from where I am watching at the classroom window, because I remember myself skipping rope to that song when I was about the age of the little girls out there now. Twenty-seven years ago, which seems impossible, and myself seven, but the same brown brick building, only a new wing added and the place smartened up. It would have surprised me then to know I'd end up here, in this room, no longer the one who was scared of not pleasing, but the thin giant She behind the desk at the front, the one with the power of picking any coloured chalk out of the box and writing anything at all on the blackboard. It seemed like a power worth possessing, then.

From A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence ©1966. Published by New Canadian Library.

Author interviews

Margaret Laurence speaks out against censorship

38 years ago
Duration 3:01
Laurence speaks out against the censorship of her books in high schools. She talks about the importance of a "skilled" reading.
In the early 1970s Laurence moves to Lakefield, Ont. She also buys a small cabin on the Otonabee River where she writes The Diviners.

More from the book

Margaret Laurence's difficult childhood

25 years ago
Duration 1:19
Margaret Laurence is born Jean Margaret Wemyss to Bob and Verna Wemyss in the town of Neepawa, Man. on July 18, 1926.