A JEALOUS GOD, a novel
published by André Deutsch, 1996
Bored by her marriage with Eric, ambivalent about her children and ridden with guilt about her aged mother, Helen Harding has reached that period in her life when memory begins its slow and pernicious invasion of the present. Unexpectedly she meets up with her estranged stepbrother Michael, and finds herself precipitated back into a past that has long been shut away - a childhood haunted by the mythic figure of her father who died in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, and a womanhood dominated by her conflicting love for Michael and for her father's brutal, disturbing friend Dennis Killin. Who is the father of Helen's daughter? What was her own mother's relationship with Killin? And above all, what really happened to her father in those tormented days when the British Mandate in Palestine drew to its bloody close? Helen's quest for the jealous god of the past is set against a shifting backdrop of England, Cyprus and Israel.
From the Sunday Times:
"The 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is at
the heart of Simon Mawer's A Jealous God... Mawer, with a wonderful
feeling for place and time, cuts deftly between life in Cyprus and
England, and post-war Palestine... The story is as dense and gripping
as a thriller..."
From New Statesman:
"The central figure is Helen Harding, an English girl who never knew her father, Andrew - a British officer who perished in the savage bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.... Her attempts to recapture the past through her relationships with her stepbrother, Michael, and Andrew's cynical war buddy, Dennis Killin, are doomed to a frustrating limbo. The novel twists and turns between these narratives, allowing us a kind of God-like eye to see the connections that Helen, kept from the truth by her dying mother, Lorna, may never find out.
"Happenstance found me reading the novel on a trip to Israel and its emerging shadow, Palestine, during the latest rumble of the ancient feud. Mawer describes a roadblock at Latrun, in 1946; there is still a roadblock, some miles up the road, with nervous soldiers once again scrutinising drivers' faces for their secret thoughts.
"Mawer is concerned, I think, with the dissonances that arise from the meeting of Englishness - with its schizoid arrogance and self-effacement - and old wars, ancient hatreds and their harsh loyalties. The book is finely and intelligently written..."