The Testament of Jessie Lamb

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am


The Testament of Jessie Lamb
by Jane Rogers
Sandstone Press (e-book)

Jane Rogers is perhaps not the most famous writer on the longlist: The Testament of Jessie Lamb, her eighth book, is released by independent publisher Sandstone. A lecturer in creative writing, Rogers does have form: her 1991 novel, Mr Wroe's Virgins, was successfully adapted for television by Danny Boyle. The Testament of Jessie Lamb is similarly odd and compelling. Its premise is powerful: pregnant women across the world are dying of a strange and seemingly incurable disease. Is it the wrath of god or punishment for the human race which believes hubristically in its own power? Is this the end of mankind? This gripping conceit is narrated by 16-year-old Jessie, whose diary records her alienation from the world around her. She is shocked towards reality by several horrific events: her best friend is raped by a gang of vicious thugs; her father reveals that he has developed a system ('Sleep Beauties') for protecting childbirth. In Rogers' universe, some young girls become the world's self-sacrificing soldiers. Rogers is an outsider for the prize - but only because her work is singularly ambitious.