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The Old Jest (filmed as "The Dawning") Paperback – 3 Oct 1988

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (3 Oct. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140106987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140106985
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 804,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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. It's a beautifully written account of youth and age in a society in transition (Ireland, early 1920s) and conjures wonderful pictures of a particular time and place. For me it lies somewhere on an arc which begins with Somerville and Ross, runs through William Trevor, and ends with Molly Keane. And there's not much higher praise than that.
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By oldhasbeen VINE VOICE on 25 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a compelling story of young woman from a crumbling Protestant Ascendancy family caught up in the turmoil of the Irish troubles around 1920. Wondefully descriptive in terms of both place (it's set in & around Dublin)and characters, it packs a great deal into fewer than 170 pages.

It was also made into a fine film called "The Dawning", with Anthony Hopkins, Trevor Howard, Jean Simmons & Rebecca Pidgeon (not a bad cast for a low-budget Arthouse film!)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underated Irish historical novel. 7 Sept. 2015
By Desert reader - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Too bad more are not familiar with Irish writer Jennifer Johnston. As commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin are held wherever Irish immigrants settled, this novel gives one insight into the Irish war for independence that followed. She is one of the best contemporary Irish novelists. Her novel How Many Miles to Babylon can also be read to get another insight into the effect of WWI had on this struggle.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites 9 July 2014
By Nunya Bidness - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this in high school and it left quite an impression upon me. Well worth reading again too. I am sad to see that this is the second time i've had to write a review for this amazing story. i dont know what happened to the other one. there isnt even a description for this listing (only for the kindle version which is rather over priced. i could see paying that much for a hard copy)

In spite of that, The story takes place in or around Dublin during a rather chaotic point in history. not only was there a war in europe there was also unrest in Ireland and strong resentment for being involved. I dont want to give too much away or give the wrong information because, like i said, i read it in high school, 2001. Just give it a try. very good lessons to be learned from this one. a real treasure for any young adult.
5.0 out of 5 stars Small canvas, great talent 3 April 2016
By Michael McKinney - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
A novella, rather than a novel, and a great example of the form "less is more". The setting is Ireland in 1920. A sheltered 18-year old starts a diary in the hopes of discovering a talent for writing. The plot doesn't stay with the diary but moves back and forth in her encounter with the "old" IRA -- old, in many ways, one of which she will learn as "the Jest". The writing is sharply lyrical and wisely restrained. The plot is tight, tense, funny, and sad. The characters live. The title refers -- we are told -- to Turgenev, but the skill reminded me of Chekhov.

I've just discovered this writer, and it's the kind of discovery that makes me want to read everything she's written. (Just for the record: the review lists "Kindle Edition", but what I bought and read was a used paperback).
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