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The Testament of Jessie Lamb Paperback – 25 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (25 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905207581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905207589
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 453,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Rogers has written 8 novels including Mr Wroe's Virgins (which she dramatised as an award-winning BBC drama serial), Her Living Image (Somerset Maugham Award), and Promised Lands (Writers Guild Best Fiction Award).
She also writes radio drama (most recently Dear Writer, BBC afternoon play), and adaptations (most recently The Custom of the Country, Classic serial, Jan 2010).
She is Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
The film of her novel Island is due for release this summer. Her short story 'Hitting trees with sticks' was shortlisted in the 2009 National Short Story Award, and she is currently working on a short story collection.
For reviews, interviews, and details of books please see www.janerogers.org


Product Description

Review

A little like The Handmaids Tale colliding with Children Of Men, Jane Rogers eighth novel offers a variation on one of the most chilling apocalyptic scenarios. In the near future, every woman in the world has been infected by some kind of airborne contaminant which causes maternal death syndrome (MDS). Anyone who becomes pregnant will automatically develop a form of CJD which ultimately kills them. She also quite explicitly carries over themes from her earlier bestseller, Mr Wroes Virgins, which, recast for the genome-mapping, eco-terrorist 21st century, prove soberingly durable. ALASTAIR MABBOTT --The Herald PAPERBACK OF THE WEEK

With Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go having hit the big screen, this is set to be a good year for literary dystopias that pack an emotional punch. With that adaptation, it's a case of if you like the film, you'll love the book, but if you can take any more bleakness you'll be blown away by this new novel by Jane Rogers. The scary thing about this novel is that the questions it raises are so close to home. Must women always be the victims and the fall guys? The novel does not set up an elaborate apocalypse, but astringently strips away the smears hiding the apocalypses we really face. Like Jessie's, it is a small, calm voice of reason in a nonsensical world. KATY GUEST --The Independent

Jane Rogers has captured Jessie's voice brilliantly, alternating a teenager's solipsism with a growing awareness of the wider world. Jessie's self-conviction is both admirable and infuriating, and the reader is torn between her clear, unequivocal conclusions and the intricate, heartfelt compromises of her parents. LUCY DALLAS --Times Literary Supplement

Jane Rogers has captured Jessie's voice brilliantly, alternating a teenager's solipsism with a growing awareness of the wider world. Jessie's self-conviction is both admirable and infuriating, and the reader is torn between her clear, unequivocal conclusions and the intricate, heartfelt compromises of her parents. LUCY DALLAS --Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

Would you fight to save the world your parents have destroyed? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER on 29 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
The subject matter of "The Testament of Jessie Lamb" ensures that this is not a comfortable read. Set in the near future, Rogers has imagined a truly terrifying virus that affects pregnant women, known as Maternal Death Syndrome or MDS. Everyone carries this illness but the effects, a cross between AIDS and CJD, ensure that all pregnant mothers will die - without exception. Scientists have found a way to save some of the unborn children, but only by placing their mothers in a chemically induced coma from which they won't recover. Now though, the scientists have also discovered a way of immunising frozen, pre-MDS embryos which, if they can be placed in a willing volunteer, may ultimately allow the survival of the human race. However, the volunteers need to be under 16½ or the likely success rates are too low. Step forward one Jessie Lamb.

The Booker longlist can be relied on to throw up at least one novel on a controversial subject. Last year it was "The Slap". This year it's this novel. There's no doubt it asks awkward and unsettling questions about a variety of issues including the age at which people can take informed decisions, the rights and wrongs of scientific research and animal testing and the right anyone has to chose their own death. There are no easy answers to any of these questions of course.

As you might infer from the title, the story is written from a first person narrative by Jessie. Often with first person narratives it's difficult to get a true steer on the character herself. Effectively she's dealing with the usual teen dramas of arguing parents, failed love and general `what's the point of me?' stuff. She's into environmentalism and vegetarianism, all in the idealistic way of many of her age.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fridaydalek on 8 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
A worthy winner of the 2012 Arthur C Clarke award.

Clear, uncluttered writing and a 16 year old protagonist do not (necessarily) make this a young adult's book. Whilst not gratuitous or frequent, there's sex, violence and strong language here. And it's unflinchingly presented: no rose-tinted, watered down view of the real world here.

There are many themes to this book, and like all good science fiction it's a lens through which to view our own world. Through Jessie we witness varying views on environmentalism, activism, poverty, feminism, the media, genetic engineering and stem cell research. This is painted against a convincing backdrop of a world facing a disaster that's imminent enough to be a real threat but distant enough that attempts to combat it are divided and morally incompatible; human nature being what it is, people simply prefer to argue with each other.

A dollop of on-the-nose hypocrisy from Jessie's beloved parents (they advocate an extreme solution, as long as it doesn't involve their own daughter) brings the worldwide tragedy down to the family level; and it's shocking and powerful just how ordinary that family is.

Jessie herself is clear-thinking and resolute, but there are questions raised as to whether she truly realises the enormity of what she's undertaking. And these questions remain beautifully unanswered.

The book can be interpreted in many ways, and has many themes; my own interpretation is that it's an examination of abortion and a woman's right to choose, inverted through a science fiction world: here we have young women determined that their children have a right to life, even when it costs their own.

Highly recommended.
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Aug 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jessie Lamb lives in the near future, but it is one that has been altered by bio-terrorists. Everyone on the planet has been infected by MDS (Maternal Death Syndrome), which lies dormant until pregnancy, when it attacks the pregnant mother with a combination of AIDS/CJD. There is no cure, although research is obviously being carried out - in part by Jessie's father. At first, Jessie is unconcerned about MDS as it doesn't affect her. However, eventually, she becomes more aware of what the event of MDS means for both the world and her personally. There are no new babies and, unless something is done, the human race will die out. Society starts to break down, as children feel adults have wreaked havoc on them, destroyed the planet and killed their future. The author does a good job of presenting a chilling and uncomfortable view of what could lie ahead, making it plausible and realistic.

Jessie is an extremely idealistic sixteen year old. She is active in various groups, aimed at trying to save the planet. She complains if her parents use the car, buy new clothes or want to book a holiday. They want life to go on - she can't see how it can. In a way, Jessie comes across as slightly petulant, too idealistic and a little unsympathetic because of that; although teenagers can be that way of course! This book concerns Jessie's attempts to 'do something' to help save humanity and the novel throws up interesting questions about sacrifice and idealism. Ultimately, the character of Jessie could have been more convincing had she been less intense, but then one of the issues in the book is how old Jessie is when she chooses to make her decision. One of the better characters in the novel was Jessie's Aunt Mandy, a slightly disturbed older woman who has never had a child and is desperate to be a mother. Her situation was a much more sympathetic one, I felt, and more could have been made of it. Overall, though, an interesting and thought provoking read.
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