Reading: Jane Gardam

God on the Rocks is an early novel of Jane Gardam’s, in fact her first, originally issued in 1978 but getting its first American release by Europa Editions in the wake of the success of Old Filth.

Margaret’s parents are members of a sect called the Primal Saints in pre-war England, on the north coast. Margaret, who is something like eight, is sharper than her parents, sharper than anyone around — sharp like a knife. Her mother is not sharp but soft, soft and milky, deeply concentrated on the new baby she’s nursing, but trying hard to assure Margaret that she has not been forgotten.

“Of course Father knows that there were dinosaurs. But you know that we believe in Genesis here, don’t you? You’ve known this for a long time. You especially, Margaret, with your wonderful memory. Most people nowadays don’t, they believe in a very old-fashioned idea that was disproved years ago by people your father knows all about. Most people believe in myths — you know what myths are — invented by Sir Charles Darwin about how we grew out of fishes and monkeys and things. Doesn’t that seem silly? But in this house we believe that God put us down all complete, Adam and Eve in the garden, so that we could share all the lovely things God had made.”
“Very kind,” said Margaret, “but . . .”
“Exactly!” Mrs Marsh looked really delighted now whereas, considering dinosaurs, she had seemed uncertain. “Exactly. Kind.”
“Unnecessary,” said Margaret. “God and the world would have done. Like me before the baby came.”

— p. 21


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