[ pdf ] The Old JestAuthor Jennifer Johnston – Mariahilff.de

In ,year old Nancy Gulliver befriends a mysterious stranger and unwittingly becomes involved in the bloody conflict between the English and the Irish Nancy Pearl


10 thoughts on “The Old Jest

  1. PattyMacDotComma PattyMacDotComma says:

    4 This begins as a light hearted, affectionate look at a young girl growing up in Ireland in 1920, after the end of WW1, but her childish, secret adventure turns serious and shows the dark divisions in Ireland Nancy was orphaned very young and has been raised in a friendly, loving household by her Aunt Mary, her befuddled grandfather a retired Major , and the family cook and philosopher , Bridie Grandfather is in a wheelchair and keeps constant watch on the distant railway line with his ever 4 This begins as a light hearted, affectionate look at a young girl growing up in Ireland in 1920, after the end of WW1, but her childish, secret adventure turns serious and shows the dark divisions in Ireland Nancy was orphaned very young and has been raised in a friendly, loving household by her Aunt Mary, her befuddled grandfather a retired Major , and the family cook and philosopher , Bridie Grandfather is in a wheelchair and keeps constant watch on the distant railway line with his ever present binoculars Her journal introduces chapters in the first person The rest is third person point of view Today is Nancy s eighteenth birthday Today I want to start to become a person My new year My life is ahead of me, empty like the pages of this book, which I bought myself as a birthday present It is not really a diary,passing thoughts that give impressions of me, so that in forty years, if, as Bridie would say, I am spared, I can look back and see what I was like when I started out It is so easy to forget I have noticed that from watching Aunt Mary, not to mention Grandfather, but then he is a special case, being slowly devoured by extreme old age There always seems to have been a war I suppose in forty years things will be much the same, in spite of what people say to the contrary Even in this small village so many people have been killed In spite of the if you are spared comments by Bridie and the family s close connection with war, she thinks mostly about herself and maybe having a crush on a young neighbour who works in the city, and she likes to think she s jealous of his girlfriend But really, she doesn t know what she thinks She s just itchy for LIFE She asks Aunt Mary,Don t you ever need to tear yourself open and get out all that stuff that s burning you inside You sound as if you need a surgeon rather than a friend Tut It s part of the mythology of youth that people go round burning themselves up inside It s not like that at all, pet Most people lead and want to lead calm, equilibriousShe laughed and repeated the wordequilibrious livesShe reached out and touched Nancy s handThere s no point in making lifedifficult than it has to be But equilibrium is the furthest thing from her mind She finds a little deserted beach hut and claims it as her own, taking some books and putting up a shelf, much the way a lot of us might have found a little hidey hole of our own in the bush or up a tree One day, she discovers someone else has been in her hut Still, she continues on her merry way, wondering about who her father was, wondering what her mother was like, wondering what she will do when she grows up And then she meets a very different boy about her own age and has to grow up.I enjoyed the Irish weather on the page but wouldn t in real life It s sunny, then almost immediately wet People are always soaked, having to race inside to dry off and get into a hot bath But that s what makes the Isle so Emerald The wind was soft and rain promising, though the sun was shining brightly Round the horizon great piles of clouds waited their moment I also enjoyed the gentle humour, usually around Aunt Mary and her friends, two sisters with whom she played cards, drank whisky and gin and dressed up and went to the races The sisters have returned from their trip to France The tall Miss Brabazon moved over to their Daimler and began to pat its bonnet as if it were a horse Nancy wondered if she were about to offer the car an appleAnd dear old car behaved like a perfect gentleman Didn t he, GeorgeThe small Miss Brabazon noddedHe never even flinched at French petrolThe title comes from Grandfather saying to Nancy,Someone once said Death is an old jest, but it comes to everyone. He guesses Kipling, and when she corrects him, saying Turgenev, he suddenly blurts out that he never liked the Russians Bit by bit, piece by piece, war and conflicts intrude Difficult times.Thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media for the copy for review from which I ve quoted


  2. Jessica Jessica says:

    You should read this book Maybe stories about the Irish Troubles don t appeal to you Maybe you don t like coming of age stories either Too bad You should still read this book.This is a terse retelling of a few shattering days in the life of a young girl, Nancy Gulliver, in Ireland during the 1920 s She has lived a somewhat sheltered life as part of a gentry family suffering a slow decline in their fortunes One day she encounters a strange man, Angus Barry, intent on hiding out in the beach You should read this book Maybe stories about the Irish Troubles don t appeal to you Maybe you don t like coming of age stories either Too bad You should still read this book.This is a terse retelling of a few shattering days in the life of a young girl, Nancy Gulliver, in Ireland during the 1920 s She has lived a somewhat sheltered life as part of a gentry family suffering a slow decline in their fortunes One day she encounters a strange man, Angus Barry, intent on hiding out in the beach shack she has turned into a personal retreat They reach an accommodation eventually they even become friends, of a sort.It was their scenes together that I found the most fascinating, there is a strange dynamic to their encounters that reflects in some way Nancy s odd situation she is 18, grown up, but still a child she is from an upper class family, but they are in decline she is very intelligent, but impractical she is independent, but inexperienced Barry sees all these conflicting things in her maybe better than her family does and allows himself to be distracted from his political concerns enough to befriend her Barry himself is fighting his own inner conflicts, he is an unrepentant rebel, but he is beginning to understand the toll it has taken on his life.There is an honesty in their discourse and a powerful strength in their interactions that is remarkable Both are seemingly without intimate connections and they discover in each other a sympathetic listener and ally.It doesn t end well, but that could be predicted from the start However, the end is satisfying and later I found myself dwellingon the events of the story than the crushing end I think this is the mark of a wonderful book, as the characters come alive in your head you want to visit with them again, just like with any good friend The movie is worth chasing down as well, a mostly faithful adaptation with a few extra charming scenes


  3. A. Mary A. Mary says:

    This story of ten days in August 1920, in the Irish War of Independence, is the story of an ordinary girl, just turned eighteen One of the things I like is that this is not a story about the war It s a story about people whose lives intersect with it Perhaps the coming of age metaphor is designed, as girl and country struggle toward autonomy Nancy Gulliver is rather aimless and petulant, but not unlikable She lives with her aunt and grandfather in a property that has become a burden The fr This story of ten days in August 1920, in the Irish War of Independence, is the story of an ordinary girl, just turned eighteen One of the things I like is that this is not a story about the war It s a story about people whose lives intersect with it Perhaps the coming of age metaphor is designed, as girl and country struggle toward autonomy Nancy Gulliver is rather aimless and petulant, but not unlikable She lives with her aunt and grandfather in a property that has become a burden The fraying financial realities of the family are quiet and genteel, so clearly illustrated, and grandfather s dementia is not so complete as everyone thinks Nancy is tentatively in love with Harry, who is eight years older and courting Maeve Johnston patiently shapes a turning of the world that rotates Nancy away from her insular life, including her girlish crush on Harry, and she is changed by her encounters with revolutionaries Her emergence into adulthood is a harsh one


  4. Cathleen Cathleen says:

    Another beautifully written, somber novel by Jennifer Johnston In 1920, in the countryside near Dublin, Nancy Gulliver comes of age, anxious, tetchy for her life to start She lives with her potty grandfather and aunt, in a country estate long past its prime The fading affluence of her family and her own sheltered life make her aimless, and drawn to an unfamiliar man harboring in a seaside hut Johnston writes of bruised ghosts lurking in the corners with subtlety, and in Johnston s novels Another beautifully written, somber novel by Jennifer Johnston In 1920, in the countryside near Dublin, Nancy Gulliver comes of age, anxious, tetchy for her life to start She lives with her potty grandfather and aunt, in a country estate long past its prime The fading affluence of her family and her own sheltered life make her aimless, and drawn to an unfamiliar man harboring in a seaside hut Johnston writes of bruised ghosts lurking in the corners with subtlety, and in Johnston s novels, the past is always the future


  5. Dem Dem says:

    Review to follow


  6. Margaret Margaret says:

    This is one of Jennifer Johnston s earlier novels it is quite hard to fine now, I found a second hand copy throughbut it is amazing I love her writing.


  7. Fictionophile Fictionophile says:

    Death is an old jest but it comes new to everyone Ivan TurgenevA few years ago I read an astounding novel by Jennifer Johnston called Shadows on our skin , so I thought I HAD to add a novel by her to my Reading Ireland month selections I chose The Old Jest because it won the Whitbread Book Award in 1979.Set in late summer 1920, The Old Jest is an atmospheric and nostalgic look at the life of Nancy Gulliver, who has just turned eighteen She never knew her father, and her mother died Death is an old jest but it comes new to everyone Ivan TurgenevA few years ago I read an astounding novel by Jennifer Johnston called Shadows on our skin , so I thought I HAD to add a novel by her to my Reading Ireland month selections I chose The Old Jest because it won the Whitbread Book Award in 1979.Set in late summer 1920, The Old Jest is an atmospheric and nostalgic look at the life of Nancy Gulliver, who has just turned eighteen She never knew her father, and her mother died giving birth to her, so Nancy lives with her dear Aunt Mary and her potty old grandfather who is suffering from dementia.Nancy fancies herself in love with the much older Harry, a friend of the family She is jealous that Harry and their neighbour, Maeve, seem to have eyes only for each other.Nancy is exuberant, impetuous and impatient, all traits which belie her youth and naivety She experiences dramatic emotional highs and lows, is introspective, and at times unwisely impulsive.Nancy has just finished school and like most people of her age she is restless and eager to get on with her life She seems very aware of the vast potential her life could offer, and she enthusiastically starts a journal where she records her emotions and day to day trivia so she won t forget To escape the adults, she spends much of her time down on the beach where her only companions are the seagullsIt is in an old beach hut that she frequents that she meets a stranger Old in her opinion tired, and ill looking, she realizes he must be a soldier They come to be friends, conversing on the beach about books, life, and death She smuggles him books to read and food from the kitchen.Over time, Nancy agrees to deliver a message for her new friend A friend who, as she had suspected, is an IRA foot soldier The results of her actions will prove life alteringIn my opinion, this novel is about youth, old age, and the chasm between the two The young view the chasm as vast, whilst the old view the chasm as a mere dimple of years It is also about change, that which we create ourselves, and that which is foisted upon us The old jest puts a human face on Irish history.Written simply about a simpler time turned tumultuous, The old jest is a thoughtful and ageless novel written by a master of prose I requested a digital copy of this novel from Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley to be read and reviewed as one of my Reading Ireland month selections


  8. Michael Brown Michael Brown says:

    A wonderfully poetic telling of a young woman during the earlier Troubles The author, suggested by Sandra Davies, is now on my must read list and I will seek out other titles As an aside, I followed this with Milkman or started the latter at least and they are worlds apart This won a minor prize and the other won two major ones For my money, that should have been reversed The Old Jest is by far the better and less pretentious title


  9. Angelika Angelika says:

    I had a hard time warming up to this novel which was in the first place due to the main character Nancy Gulliver, who comes across as an odd, disjointed mixture of all sorts of character traits that never seem to form an organic whole Immaturity, some sort of rebelliousness, reflective skills occasionally, barely connected It was difficult to imagine that Nancy was a living and breathing human being She never really came to life, which made reading the book an ordeal at times If it had been I had a hard time warming up to this novel which was in the first place due to the main character Nancy Gulliver, who comes across as an odd, disjointed mixture of all sorts of character traits that never seem to form an organic whole Immaturity, some sort of rebelliousness, reflective skills occasionally, barely connected It was difficult to imagine that Nancy was a living and breathing human being She never really came to life, which made reading the book an ordeal at times If it had been any longer, I wouldn t have finished it.Another big issue to me was that most of the dialogue and there s lots , apart from the conversations with the soldier which show some substance, was poorly written and not engaging at all, especially when it comes to Aunt Mary and Bridie Plus, considering the serious topic the way they talked appeared to be much too light hearted and banal overall.In between there were beautifully written passages with philosophical touches, thoughtful remarks, original metaphors, but unfortunately they didn t take up that much space in comparison to the long winded trifles exchanged inside Nancy s home, which is a pity


  10. Zuberino Zuberino says:

    Classic Johnston territory the time around the Great War Irish War of Independence, the place a genteel family estate just outside Dublin The Dwyer Gulliver family isn t explicitly Anglo Irish as in How Many Miles but they occupy a high rung in society and their loyalties are divided The story opens the day young Nancy Gulliver turns 18, and takes place over a few days along that stretch of Irish coast She meets a grizzled rebel hiding out in her seaside shack, she runs errands for him, Classic Johnston territory the time around the Great War Irish War of Independence, the place a genteel family estate just outside Dublin The Dwyer Gulliver family isn t explicitly Anglo Irish as in How Many Miles but they occupy a high rung in society and their loyalties are divided The story opens the day young Nancy Gulliver turns 18, and takes place over a few days along that stretch of Irish coast She meets a grizzled rebel hiding out in her seaside shack, she runs errands for him, she meets young tykes from the wrong side of the tracks in racy Dublin, her inner life and outer life goes through violent turmoil, and inexorably she grows older over those few days, shedding youthful illusions and infatuations along the way All very nicely done Especially the dragon like character of the taller Miss Brabazon now that woman could have a book or two all to herself PS There s an Anthony Hopkins movie based on the book, should look it up sometime