The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
Whereas Mark Haddon’s ‘Curious Incident’ was billed as a children’s book which proved to be a huge hit with adults, I felt more and more convinced that The Testament Of Jessie Lamb would make a great addition to a teen reading list.
Teenage protagonists aren’t uncommon in fiction, but the world Jessie Lamb inhabits certainly is. It’s a well thought out premise, and a chilling one at that. If any books ultimate aim is to make people think you could do a lot worse than get to the end of this one and ask a teenager: what would you do?
Heat and dust Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
It’s getting on for forty years since Heat and Dust was written. Have attitudes changed so markedly during that time? My impression is that we’re far more accepting (by which I mean repentant) of the frailties and failures of British rule in India. At this great remove we can look back on a machine that took its privilege for granted and shake our heads as though it’s nothing to do with who we are today.
It’s books like this one that give us our measure. It’s precisely these stories that remind us that it was people who ran the machine, and not the machine that made the people. At least not at first. It’s tales like Heat And Dust that chime in our heads when we meet the modern day Douglases and Olivias, the Nawabs and the Begums.
They remind us that we’ll always be human, and that we’ll always have a story.