Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1979 Costa Winner

The Old Jest by Jennifer Johnston


Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Length: 160 pages

About: Youth in a turbulent time

Style: 3rd person

Where: Ireland (Dublin)

When: 1920



Publisher’s synopsis:

Late summer near Dublin, 1920, and up at the great house there are still cucumber sandwiches for tea. Slipping away from Aunt Mary and dotty Grandfather, 18-year-old Nancy has escaped down to the shore to dream in the beach hut - longing for her life to begin.




:- 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’s not really a diary, that give impressions of me, so that in forty years I can look back and see what I was like when I started out..




This is a typical Jennifer Johnston book, told in sparse but highly evocative prose. Her protagonist Nancy is acutely believable -- although she appears strangely unworldly compared to today's teenagers, a product, perhaps, of the time in which the book is set.

For full review click here

Reading Matters, 31st May 2008



Not so good

This book deals with loss (as do most of Jennifer Johnston's) and the cynicism built into society. But if that sounds grim please don't be put off.

For full review click here

Amazon reviews, John McCartney, 4th February 2011




About the author

She was born 12 January 1930 in Dublin, Ireland, to the Irish actor/director Shelah Richards and the playwright Denis Johnston, a cousin of the late actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, via Fitzgerald's mother, Edith.


She was educated at Trinity College Dublin, and currently lives in Derry, Northern Ireland. She was born into the Church of Ireland and many of her novels deal with the fading of the Protestant Anglo-Irish ascendancy in the 20th century.
























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<1978> -  <1980>















Page turner







Age guide: 12





Books by same author:



Film adaptation called The Dawning with Anthony Hopkins








2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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